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'United Against Hate' discussion held at the College of Idaho

Posted at 7:50 PM, May 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-13 21:50:50-04

CALDWELL, Idaho — Students, staff, public, and the US Attorney's Office met at the College of Idaho to discuss federal hate crimes and the importance of recognizing and reporting them.

  • In the State of Idaho, incidents that turn violent around someone's religion, race, national origin, and ancestry are considered crimes.
  • Hate crimes based on sex or sexual orientation are not in Idaho's laws and are covered by federal law.
  • To report a hate crime in Idaho based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, email USAID.civilrights@usdoj.gov.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

Hate "incidents" versus hate "crimes." The difference is small but important when a line is crossed. In the Gem State, incidents that turn violent around someone's religion, race, national origin, and ancestry are considered crimes. While Idaho may be too great for hate, hate crimes based on sex and sexual orientation or not part of the state's laws. That's where the United States prosecutors come in.

"Well, the federal law does cover those categories in terms of hate crimes. State law does not, so that's pretty much your answer right there," explained US Attorney for the District of Idaho Josh Hurwit.

A hate incident becomes a crime when violence against a person is involved.

Monday's discussions come after an October 2022 arrest of Matthew Alan Lehigh where he assaulted a transgender Boise librarian, smashing windows of an LGBTQ support center with a tire iron, and attempted to run over two Boise women who he perceived to be lesbian, amongst others.

Ultimately, the charges brought against Mr. Lehigh by the state didn't cover the breadth of the crimes. The US DOJ brought federal hate crime charges. Ultimately, Lehigh pled guilty to the federal charges.

The DOJ has partnered with the college of Idaho for the second time for Monday's summit.

"The US Attorney's Office reached out to us under the leadership of Josh Hurwit and asked 'Will you be a venue that we could host public discourse, conversations around civil rights, conversations around hate crimes?' We've been working collectively with his office, administrative staff, and other assistant US attorneys as well as event staff to bring these discussions to our college campus," said Director of Accessibility and Learning Excellence Jodi Nafzger.

Colleges and universities are prime forums for these types of discussion and growth.

"I thought it was really important to spark discourse and bring folks to campus to expose students to different opportunities, maybe professional tracks, and getting involved in the community," added College of Idaho Junior Hana Pfeiffer.