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U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom Discusses Hate Crimes

Abigail Wilson

U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom spoke against hate crimes on Wednesday during a presentation at Wichita State University. The Hate Crime Prevention Act was passed five years ago this month. KMUW’s Abigail Wilson has more.

Grissom spoke to students about the need to eradicate both hate and hate crimes. He mentioned several events in Wichita that were found to be motivated by hate including arson at a mosque in 2011 and the vandalization of a mural celebrating immigration earlier this year.

The Hate Crime Prevention Act makes it a federal crime to injure anyone because of their actual or perceived race, religion, disability or sexual orientation. Grissom said gays and lesbians have often been the victims of hate crimes.

“Most of us have come to a point where we understanding that if we have a friend who happens to be gay, he or she is just gay. It wasn't a choice," he said.

Grissom says more hate crimes are being reported, even in Wichita, but part of the change comes from awareness on both the part of the public and law enforcement.