BOSTON (SHNS) – Members of the Task Force on Hate Crimes are looking to vet nine pieces of legislation that could strengthen existing state laws surrounding hate crimes and install more protections for victims.
The group’s legislative subcommittee mapped out a strategy Monday to invite the bill sponsors to a tentative meeting next month, which will guide members — including representatives from law enforcement, local government and community advocacy organizations — as they make recommendations to the Legislature on whether the proposals should advance on Beacon Hill.
The majority of the bills are awaiting a hearing before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, said William Ramsdell, deputy legislative director at the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. A proposal from Rep. Tram Nguyen and Bud Williams (H 1704) would expand the state’s collection of hate crime data from state, local and campus police, as well as other law enforcement agencies. A Sen. William Brownsberger bill (S 914) would add sex and gender as a protected class for hate crime prosecutions, while bills from Rep. Christine Barber and Sen. Cindy Creem (H 1392 / S 924) deal with property damage in hate crime cases. The subcommittee tapped Robert Trestan, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League’s west division, to serve as chair Monday.
A report from the ADL Center on Extremism in May found that Massachusetts had the country’s sixth highest rate of antisemitic harassment, vandalism and assault in 2022. The Commonwealth also had the second highest number of white supremacist propaganda incidents. In its report, the ADL urged the Legislature to pass bills to tamp down on hate crimes and online harassment