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Bills introduced in Michigan Senate aim to halt false, race-based 911 calls

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Posted at 2:56 PM, Jan 28, 2021

(WXYZ) — Two bills introduced in the state Senate would make false reporting certain criminal incidents hate crimes and classify them as felonies.

Senate Bill 62, introduced by Sen. Erika Geiss, would classify the false reporting of a crime or suspected crime, based solely on the alleged perpetrator's race or ethnicity, as a hate crime, and Senate Bill 63 would designate the act as a Class G felony.

“In the past year, the public became more aware of people who weaponize their white privilege and needlessly escalate conflicts by calling the police on innocent Black and Brown people who have not committed any crime,” Sen. Geiss said in a press release. “Ethnic intimidation against our over-policed communities of color only serves to perpetuate the unjust systems of racism, oppression and discrimination — and it needs to stop.”

Under Sen. Geiss’ bills, a first offense would be a misdemeanor with up to a $1,000 fine and 50 hours of community service with an organization whose mission is to combat racism and discrimination. A second offense would be a felony with a fine of up to $2,500, two years in prison, or both.

The legislation comes on the heels of work being done by elected officials to establish accountability for actions and make Michigan a more equitable state for minorities, Geiss said.

“The fight for equal rights and justice resurges every single time a false race- or ethnic-related crime is reported,” Sen. Geiss said. “This legislation is long overdue, and I look forward to it becoming a reality so that we can continue to work together rebuilding trust in our communities.”