MichMash: Institutional Desecration Act aims to increase penalties for hate crimes in Michigan

Michigan’s House of Representatives passed the bill package earlier this year.

Michigan State Rep. Noah Arbit (center), D-West Bloomfield, introduces legislation to amend the state’s anti-hate crime laws.

Michigan State Rep. Noah Arbit (center), D-West Bloomfield, introduces legislation to amend the state’s anti-hate crime laws in April 2023.

Vandalism against places of worship, schools and other cultural institutions would receive more penalties under the proposed Institutional Desecration Act.

Michigan Public Radio Network reporter Colin Jackson sits down with MichMash host Cheyna Roth to discuss what the bill package includes.

Subscribe to MichMash on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, NPR.org or wherever you get your podcasts.

In this episode:

  • Institutional Desecration Act increasing punishment for heinous acts of violence
  • Michigan business incentive funds.
  • Clean standard bill

The Michigan Senate has yet to review a bill that would address hate crimes in the state after being passed by the State House in June. Jackson says lawmakers are trying to prevent intentional desecration of cultural institutions.

“It’s really meant to prevent attacks on these cultural and religious [sites] that we’ve seen,” Jackson explains. “For example, with the rise of islamophobia or rise of antisemitism, we’ve seen churches being vandalized.”

The bill package would amend Michigan’s current vandalism laws to include hate crime penalties.

“Right now, Michigan doesn’t have an explicit hate crime law. We have an act against ethnic intimidation,” Jackson says. “From the [bill] sponsors’ point of view, the Ethnic Intimidation Act is inadequate because it hasn’t been updated in decades and they need to add more specific protections. The proposed hate crime law would provide specific protections for any attempts to intimidate anyone based on race, religion, sex, gender identity, etc.”

The Institutional Desecration Act would include more specificity to encompass multiple backgrounds and affiliations. State Sen. Stephanie Chang, who supports the bill, said there isn’t a specific timeline for when the bill will be presented to the Michigan Senate for review.  

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  • Hernz Laguerre
    Hernz Laguerre Jr. is a Multimedia Journalist at 101.9 WDET. He is one of the co-host for "Detroit Evening Report," one of the weekend anchors for "Weekend Edition," the producer for our political podcast, "MichMash," and reports on arts, culture and politics.