116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
NORTH LIBERTY — Individuals convicted of a bias-motivated hate crime in North Liberty will face a financial penalty and jail time under an ordinance passed by the North Liberty City Council.
Council member Annie Pollock said at the Tuesday night council meeting she is “proud of our city that we’re making another step in the right direction.”
Council member RaQuishia Harrington added, “We are standing on something with teeth and not just a resolution with this.”
The council passed the ordinance unanimously, 4-0, with council member Brent Smith absent.
The Johnson County Interfaith Coalition approached the city in June 2020 requesting the city enact a hate crime ordinance modeled after Iowa City’s ordinance, City Attorney Grant Lientz said in a memo to council members.
Iowa City passed its ordinance in 2019 after being approached by the coalition.
The ordinance defines a bias-motivated hate crime as harassment or trespassing committed against someone because of their race, skin color, creed or religion, national origin, political affiliation, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability or marital status.
A hate crime also could be due to a person’s association with these actual or perceived characteristics.
A first offense violation is punishable by a fine between $300 and $855 and three to seven days in jail. Subsequent offenses will carry a fine of $855 and 30 days in jail.
Hate crimes have been on the rise in recent years, with 2020 seeing the highest level of offenses in 12 years, according to reporting by the Washington Post last month.
Hate crimes increased 6 percent from 2019 to 2020, FBI data showed, with increasing attacks against Blacks and Asians.
Iowa also has seen a rise in hate crimes, most of which have been committed on the basis of race and ethnicity.
North Liberty, though, has not seen an increase, the city attorney said in his memo to the council.
Lientz said he reviewed data from the North Liberty Police Department since the beginning of 2020. He found “no incidents that satisfy the criteria of trespassing or harassment” under the hate crime ordinance.
Lientz said no calls for service by North Liberty police in the past three years have resulted in charges by the Johnson County Attorney’s Office under the state’s hate crime statutes.
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