Nessel takes measures to minimize hate crimes by developing Hate Crimes Unit within the Department of Attorney General.

By Dana Nessel

As difficult as it is to admit, our country’s history is rich in hate. Far too often, we’re reminded of how far we still must go for the greater good of all people. Violence, pain, death and sorrow impact victims of hate crime every day, both domestically and abroad.

Last month, New Zealand experienced a tragedy that’s all too familiar here in the United States. What was supposed to be a sanctuary and place of worship quickly morphed into a nightmare. A total of 50 people were killed and 31 injured — nine still in critical condition. This was a crime of pure hate and heartbreakingly tragic.

The attack played out on social media along with the visibility of the manifesto online: Terrorists were applauded, and blatant hatred for specific groups along with self-proclamations of racism were all included.

Unfortunately, active shooters and the hate crimes they commit are no stranger to us in the United States:

Charleston, S.C. – June 17, 2015, a man* murdered nine people in worship at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. He admitted to police his desire to start a “race war.”

Orlando, Fla. – June 12, 2016, a man* murdered 49 people and injured 53 at Pulse, a popular nightclub geared toward members of the LGBTQ community.

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Oct. 27, 2018, a man* entered the Tree of Life Synagogue, ultimately murdered 11 innocent people and, according to law enforcement, made anti-Semitic statements while shooting and on social media.

I want to make it clear that senseless acts of hate and terror have no place in Michigan. We created the Hate Crimes Unit with the express purpose of protecting everyone in this state from those who wish to terrorize people who live here. We are committed to working relentlessly and tirelessly in cooperation with federal and local authorities.

This is personal for me as a Jewish woman. My grandparents fled Europe in order to be free from those who wished to exterminate them for no other reason than they worshipped differently from the majority. But to them, America was — and is — the land of freedom — freedom to be who we are and to worship any way we like.

Our state is home to immense diversity, which is a source of joy and pride for us. There may be individuals who feel the opposite and choose to speak about their dissatisfaction. Regardless of how vile or appalling their words can be for some, hate speech is not illegal and is, in fact, protected.

When speech turns to action, however, we are compelled to act. That’s why I established the Hate Crimes Unit within the Department of Attorney General. The Hate Crimes Unit is here to work with both local and federal law enforcement to be vigilant in our efforts to investigate and prosecute actual crime driven by hate. As attorney general, I will always uphold the law and do everything within our power to keep our residents safe.

I’m excited to work closely with the Hate Crimes Unit, law enforcement and the community to eradicate the criminal activity propelled by hate. If you are a victim of a hate crime or have credible information about a hate crime, contact the Department of Attorney General at (313) 456-0180.

Let those who wish to harm us know that we will not lie down; we will fight back; we will resist, and we will conquer hate by working together.

Dana Nessel was elected Michigan Attorney General in November of 2018

*We refuse to acknowledge these murderers by name.

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