A Hate Crimes Bill May Face A Political Uphill Battle In Wyoming

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This Saturday, July 18, 2015 photo shows police officers surrounding the suspect in a shooting in Riverton, Wyo. The Wyoming man accused of opening fire at an alcohol detoxification center, killing one man and wounding another, is a parks employee who said he targeted the facility because he was tired of cleaning up after the homeless population, police said Monday. (Tibby McDowell/Riverton Ranger via AP) This Saturday, July 18, 2015 photo shows police officers surrounding the suspect in a shooting in Riverton, Wyo. (Tibby McDowell/Riverton Ranger via AP)

By Laura Hancock For The Gazette

Mike Massie, a former state legislator from Laramie, has some advice if lawmakers want to pass a hate crimes bill in Wyoming, one of five states without such laws in the country.

Build a coalition of churches, law enforcement and civil liberties groups. Avoid too much emotion, but explain the problem and how the bill offers a positive solution. Educate the public on how people become crime victims because of their race, ethnicity, gender, disability and sexual orientation, said Massie, who co-sponsored a measure several times throughout the 1990s.

“My advice is to really demonstrate what the problem is here in Wyoming,” he said. “Make it Wyoming-specific. Talk in terms of how a bias crimes bill will help with that problem.”

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