County Board requests strengthening of state hate crime law

Ryan Patterson, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis.
·2 min read

Apr. 8—EAU CLAIRE — The Eau Claire County Board on Wednesday approved two items intended to support marginalized groups of people.

The County Board passed a resolution "requesting the state of Wisconsin strengthen its hate crime statute." The resolution, authored by Supervisor Zoe Roberts, adds "gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, or veteran's status" to the list of protected people under the state's hate crime law. Moreover, it "mandates that hate crime data be collected, retained, and made publicly available based on demographic statistics by the Attorney General of the State of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Department of Justice."

The resolution also "requires sworn law enforcement officers to receive specialized hate crime training and continuing education on a biennial basis."

The County Board also passed a proclamation that announced this April as Hmong History Month; condemned "violence of all forms against the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American community"; and encouraged "everyone to condemn anti-Asian bias and to read, learn, and seek opportunities to experience cultures other than their own, review their practices that may create barriers or contribute to systemic racism, and in these ways and others, seek to become a more welcoming, inclusive community."

"Asian Americans have for far too long been the target of xenophobic policies, labor exploitation, hate crimes, and systemic racism in the United States," the proclamation reads in part.

From 2019 to 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes in 16 of America's largest cities went up from 49 to 122 incidents, an increase of 149%, according to an analysis of official preliminary police data by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

"We must be vigilant and speak out against discrimination that divides us as people," Supervisor Colleen Bates said Wednesday. "We are stronger together."

The County Board proclamation is the latest local act that could raise awareness of the topic. The Eau Claire City Council last month approved a similar resolution condemning acts of racism and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Last Friday, a "Stop AAPI hate" rally and vigil occurred to support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Other business

Matt Theisen, county facilities director, said a project bid will go out shortly on the construction of a sixth circuit courtroom. He said the county aims to begin construction early this summer and complete it by the end of September.

The County Board proclaimed April 26-30 "Work Zone Awareness Week."

The County Board proclaimed April 2021 National County Government Month in Eau Claire County.

The next County Board meeting is scheduled for April 20.