Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird announced today that her administration is proposing an ordinance to the City Council on Monday, June 1 that would strengthen the city's ability to respond to acts of hate. The ordinance would create a new offense under the City Code called "hate intimidation" that could be charged to an individual who commits a violation of a city ordinance with the intent to intimidate a person due to that person's (actual or perceived) status, including race, color, religion, physical or mental disability, national origin, age, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
The Mayor said the ordinance is being proposed in response to recent troubling incidents in Lincoln, including the anti-Semitic graffiti at the South Street Temple in January and swastikas spray-painted on trees in Wilderness Park this week, and "as an expression of our community's shared values." She said staff at the Asian Community and Cultural Center have also reported acts of bias against some Asian American residents in Lincoln due to false information and assumptions about the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.
"I join the rest of our community in condemning these acts and all acts of bigotry," said Mayor Gaylor Baird. "In our city, we value every resident and the diversity of identities, backgrounds, and perspectives they contribute to our community."
This ordinance would allow the city prosecutor to charge perpetrators of hate crimes in Lincoln. It would also apply to additional types of crimes beyond those included in state statutes, crimes such as destruction of property and disturbing the peace.
"This ordinance would give the city a greater ability to respond to acts of hate in our community," Mayor Gaylor Baird said. "By adding this additional tool, we hope to demonstrate that hate has no home in Lincoln and that every resident belongs here."
Those who experience acts of discrimination in Lincoln are urged to contact the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights (LCHR) by calling 402-441-7264; sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or completing an online incident report, available at humanrights.lincoln.ne.gov.