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City council tables support of hate crime legislation

by Bradly Gill | April 15, 2021 at 8:00 a.m.

Support of hate crime legislation was tabled indefinitely at Tuesday’s Camden City Council meeting after council members took exception to some of the language in the proposed resolution.

Resolution 20-21, “a resolution expressing support for the passage of legislation imposing enhanced sentencing for convictions of misdemeanors and felonies associated with crimes committed against victims with actual or perceived characteristics (Hate Crime) and for other purposes,” was tabled with a 5-1 vote, with Alderman Marvin Moore being the sole nay vote.

“There was some wording that I thought was a little ridiculous. There’s two places it basically says, ‘something bad, perceived or imagined,’” Alderman S.E. Lindsey said. “So you have this imaginary offense, because somebody didn’t like the color of your hair, or you didn’t salute to them when they went by. I thought, ‘Well, that’s just bullst.’”

Moore said that while he agreed with the scope of the resolution, he thought it “needed more teeth.”

Mayor Julian Lott took to Facebook after the council meeting, denouncing the resolution’s tabling.

“Tonight, we tried to pass our own Hate Crimes Bill. It was voted to table indefinitely. I seek to be proactive instead of reactive. You should have been there. Makes me wanna holla. Marching has to translate to manifestos or mandates, protests into policy. Fighting for you,” he wrote.

City Attorney Michael Frey noted that the tabling does not mean the proposal goes away; it can be brought back up whenever it is reintroduced to the City Council.

The resolution in full reads as follows:

RESOLUTION NO. 21-21

A resolution expressing support for the passage of legislation imposing enhanced sentencing for convictions of misdemeanors and felonies associated with crimes committed against victims with actual or perceived characteristics (hate crimes); and for other purposes

WHEREAS, criminal offenses occur throughout the United States on a daily basis that are committed whole or in part, because of one or more actual or perceived characteristics of the victim; and

WHEREAS, all but four (4) states (Arkansas, South Carolina and Wyoming) [sic] have laws addressing what has become known as hate crimes, and

WHEREAS, such hate crimes are often committed against victims and/or their property based, in whole or in part, due to actual or perceived disability, sex, which includes gender and gender identity, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and/or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics, as well as committed for the purpose of interfering with the victim’s free exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege or immunity protected by First Amendment to the United States Constitution, or committed because the victim has exercised or enjoyed said rights, and

WHEREAS, such offenses are often violent and vicious crimes against the health, welfare, peace and dignity of the inhabitants and visitors of the City of Camden, Arkansas and its environs, and the sentencing penalties for same should be enhanced so as to be commensurate with the level of such an offense; and

WHEREAS, according to reports by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Division, such hate crimes are overwhelmingly underreported, which adds to associated problems such as fear, social unrest, and alienation, and therefore, accurate reporting and maintenance of statistical data is of paramount importance to alleviate the impact such crimes have upon not just the victims, but the communities in which they occur, and to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve; and

WHEREAS, the City of Camden. Arkansas, as a municipality and political subdivision of the State of Arkansas, is prohibited from declaring any act a felony pursuant to A.CA. 14-43-603, as such authority is reserved to the State; and

WHEREAS, the City of Camden, Arkansas, by and through its Board of Directors, has determined that it is in the interest of its inhabitants and visitors to express its support for legislation imposing enhanced sentencing for convictions of misdemeanors and felonies associated with such hate crimes, and to encourage the accurate reporting and maintenance of statistical data of same.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Camden, Arkansas:

That the City of Camden, Arkansas supports legislation imposing enhanced sentencing for convictions of misdemeanors and felonies associated with crimes committed against victims and/or their property based, in whole or in part, due to actual or perceived disability, sex, which includes gender and gender identity, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and/or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics, as well as committed for the purpose of interfering with the victim’s free exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege or immunity protected by First Amendment to the United States Constitution, or committed because the victim has exercised or enjoyed said rights; and to encourage the accurate reporting and maintenance of statistical data of same. Provided further, the City of Camden, Arkansas seeks the assistance of its legislative delegation to bring this matter before the Arkansas General Assembly for its consideration, adoption, and enactment.

By Bradly Gill

News Editor

Support of hate crime legislation was tabled indefinitely at Tuesday’s Camden City Council meeting after council members took exception to some of the language in the proposed resolution.

Resolution 20-21, “a resolution expressing support for the passage of legislation imposing enhanced sentencing for convictions of misdemeanors and felonies associated with crimes committed against victims with actual or perceived characteristics (Hate Crime) and for other purposes,” was tabled with a 5-1 vote, with Alderman Marvin Moore being the sole nay vote.

“There was some wording that I thought was a little ridiculous. There’s two places it basically says, ‘something bad, perceived or imagined,’” Alderman S.E. Lindsey said. “So you have this imaginary offense, because somebody didn’t like the color of your hair, or you didn’t salute to them when they went by. I thought, ‘Well, that’s just bullst.’”

Moore said that while he agreed with the scope of the resolution, he thought it “needed more teeth.”

Mayor Julian Lott took to Facebook after the council meeting, denouncing the resolution’s tabling.

“Tonight, we tried to pass our own Hate Crimes Bill. It was voted to table indefinitely. I seek to be proactive instead of reactive. You should have been there. Makes me wanna holla. Marching has to translate to manifestos or mandates, protests into policy. Fighting for you,” he wrote.

City Attorney Michael Frey noted that the tabling does not mean the proposal goes away; it can be brought back up whenever it is reintroduced to the City Council.

The resolution in full reads as follows:

RESOLUTION NO. 21-21

A resolution expressing support for the passage of legislation imposing enhanced sentencing for convictions of misdemeanors and felonies associated with crimes committed against victims with actual or perceived characteristics (hate crimes); and for other purposes

WHEREAS, criminal offenses occur throughout the United States on a daily basis that are committed whole or in part, because of one or more actual or perceived characteristics of the victim; and

WHEREAS, all but four (4) states (Arkansas, South Carolina and Wyoming) [sic] have laws addressing what has become known as hate crimes, and

WHEREAS, such hate crimes are often committed against victims and/or their property based, in whole or in part, due to actual or perceived disability, sex, which includes gender and gender identity, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and/or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics, as well as committed for the purpose of interfering with the victim’s free exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege or immunity protected by First Amendment to the United States Constitution, or committed because the victim has exercised or enjoyed said rights, and

WHEREAS, such offenses are often violent and vicious crimes against the health, welfare, peace and dignity of the inhabitants and visitors of the City of Camden, Arkansas and its environs, and the sentencing penalties for same should be enhanced so as to be commensurate with the level of such an offense; and

WHEREAS, according to reports by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Division, such hate crimes are overwhelmingly underreported, which adds to associated problems such as fear, social unrest, and alienation, and therefore, accurate reporting and maintenance of statistical data is of paramount importance to alleviate the impact such crimes have upon not just the victims, but the communities in which they occur, and to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve; and

WHEREAS, the City of Camden. Arkansas, as a municipality and political subdivision of the State of Arkansas, is prohibited from declaring any act a felony pursuant to A.CA. 14-43-603, as such authority is reserved to the State; and

WHEREAS, the City of Camden, Arkansas, by and through its Board of Directors, has determined that it is in the interest of its inhabitants and visitors to express its support for legislation imposing enhanced sentencing for convictions of misdemeanors and felonies associated with such hate crimes, and to encourage the accurate reporting and maintenance of statistical data of same.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Camden, Arkansas:

That the City of Camden, Arkansas supports legislation imposing enhanced sentencing for convictions of misdemeanors and felonies associated with crimes committed against victims and/or their property based, in whole or in part, due to actual or perceived disability, sex, which includes gender and gender identity, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and/or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics, as well as committed for the purpose of interfering with the victim’s free exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege or immunity protected by First Amendment to the United States Constitution, or committed because the victim has exercised or enjoyed said rights; and to encourage the accurate reporting and maintenance of statistical data of same. Provided further, the City of Camden, Arkansas seeks the assistance of its legislative delegation to bring this matter before the Arkansas General Assembly for its consideration, adoption, and enactment.

In Other business:

Resolution No. 20-21, a resolution expressing the willingness of the City Council to utilize Federal-Aid Transportation Alternative Program Funds for Adams Avenue sidewalks passed unanimously.

Resolution No. 22-21, a resolution amending the budget for 2021; and for other purposes, passed unanimously to add more money to the city landfill budget.

Resolution No. 24-21, a resolution amending the budget for 2021; Appropriating funds for the Code Enforcement Department; and for other purposes passed unanimously.

Alderman Chris Aregood also entered a resolution to approve a bonus of a 25$ gift card to any Public Works worker that worked during the time between April 9-11 in the cleanup of the storms that damaged many areas of Camden. It passed unanimously.

In Other business:

Resolution No. 20-21, a resolution expressing the willingness of the City Council to utilize Federal-Aid Transportation Alternative Program Funds for Adams Avenue sidewalks passed unanimously.

Resolution No. 22-21, a resolution amending the budget for 2021; and for other purposes, passed unanimously to add more money to the city landfill budget.

Resolution No. 24-21, a resolution amending the budget for 2021; Appropriating funds for the Code Enforcement Department; and for other purposes passed unanimously.

Alderman Chris Aregood also entered a resolution to approve a bonus of a 25$ gift card to any Public Works worker that worked during the time between April 9-11 in the cleanup of the storms that damaged many areas of Camden. It passed unanimously.

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