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Today is Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Hate-Crimes Bill Passes in Kansas City

[KANSAS CITY, KS] - Those who commit crimes motivated by sexual orientation and race now face stiffer penalties than regular criminals in Kansas City, Kan., with the passage of a new hate-crimes ordinance.

"It's a great step forward for KCK," said Maurice Gray, a black man whose home was tagged with racist graffiti in January. "It [tells] the voting public that KCK doesn't stand for this type of nonsense."

Gray was on hand Thursday for the approval of the new ordinance by the Unified Board of Commissioners of Wyandotte County and Kansas City. The ordinance is modeled on a similar measure in Wichita.

Kansas City joins Olathe and Kansas City, Mo., as jurisdictions with so-called hate-crimes ordinances. The new ordinance creates stiffer penalties for persons whose crimes are motivated by "antipathy, animosity, or hostility based upon the race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, ancestry, disability, or handicap of another individual or group." It applies to several misdemeanors, including assault, battery, criminal damage to property, harassment by telephone, and unlawful use of weapons.

First-time offenders could be sentenced to up to one year in jail and a fine of $500 to $2,500. Second-time offenders will face a minimum of five days in jail and another $500 to $2,500 fine. Crimes not motivated by ethnic intimidation generally do not carry minimum fines and jail sentences, nor are second-time offenders subjected to harsher penalties.

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