New Michigan Hate Speech Bill Would Make It A Felony To Make Someone ‘Feel’ Threatened

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Anne Brown Contributor
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A new Michigan bill would make it a hate crime to cause someone to “feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened.”

The Michigan Hate Crime Act, designated HB 4474 , passed in the state House on Tuesday and now goes before the Michigan Senate.  It will replace the existing Ethnic Intimidation Act and expand the categories of people protected by the law.

The new bill would include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” as classes protected against intimidation.

It would also expand the definition of a hate crime from threats or property damage under the current law to a broader definition that includes force, intimidation, threats, bodily injury or damage to personal property.

The act defines intimidation as “repeated or continuing harassment of another individual” that causes the victim to “feel terrorized, frightened or threatened.” It would not include “constitutionally protected activity or conduct that serves a legitimate purpose.”

Democratic Michigan Rep. Noah Arbit, who helped lead the legislative package, said the bills would bring Michigan from a “national laggard to a national leader” in addressing hate crimes, according to The Detroit News. Arbit said his experience as a gay Jewish man fueled his commitment to the legislation.

“No Michigander should ever feel unsafe or threatened because of who they are or the community they belong to,” Arbit said on the House floor. (RELATED: Canadian Black Lives Matter Leader Reportedly Charged With Hate Crime Against Catholics)

If passed, the hate speech legislation would make violators guilty of a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000.