Minnesota lawmaker seeks crackdown on fake hate crime claims

Published 02-21-2019

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota lawmaker wants tougher penalties for falsely reporting hate crimes in his state after an actor in Chicago was accused of doing so.

Rep. Nick Zerwas' bill comes after actor Jussie Smollett was charged with falsely telling authorities he was attacked by men who hurled racist and anti-gay slurs and looped a rope around his neck.

Zerwas, an Elk River Republican, also cites a false report of a racist note that triggered protests and cancelled classes at St. Olaf College in Northfield in 2017.

Zerwas says false reports traumatize communities and force police to waste resources.

Filing a false police report is usually a misdemeanor in Minnesota. His bill would make falsely reporting hate crimes a gross misdemeanor punishable up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

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