By Charles Sercombe
Monday’s panel discussion on a pending Congressional “hate crime law” may get a little heated.
Monday’s discussion will be led by Congressmen John Conyers, who is sponsoring legislation to create a federal “anti-hate” law. The law would make it a “hate crime” to discriminate or attack someone because of their race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.
Several states, including Michigan, have similar laws. The law would allow prosecutors to add an additional charge to accuse someone of a “hate crime” besides charges of discrimination or assault.
The meeting, sponsored by the Hamtramck NAACP, will be this Monday, 7 p.m., at St. Peter AME Church, 3056 Yemans at Charest. The meeting was moved from Corinthian Baptist Church, apparently because of the plant fire at Sterling Oil, located down the street from Corinthian.
The proposed law has been the subject of heated debate because it provides what some critics call “gay rights.” Monday’s meeting has the potential to turn raucous, but not because there are critics of the proposed law.
Hamtramck Councilmember Scott Klein, who is openly gay and a proponent of gay rights, said he and other gay activists will “hijack” the meeting to confront NAACP President Kamal Rahman and other Bengali NAACP members who campaigned against Hamtramck’s “Natural Rights” ordinance last year.
The proposed “Natural Rights” law made it illegal to discriminate against gays and those with a non-traditional sexual orientation.
Members of the Bengali Muslim community vocally opposed the law.
Klein said it’s hypocritical of Rahman and others to sponsor and appear to support a law that contains elements they vehemently opposed in Hamtramck.
“I’m going to reveal these people for who they are, which are not good people,” Klein said. “They’re not going to like the turn it (the meeting) will take.”
Prior to The Review interview of Klein, a rumor had circulated through town that some kind of disruption would take place. Hamtramck Police Chief Mark Kalinowski, who was going to be a part of the panel discussion, said he thought he was going to be the target.
That prompted him to bow out from participating. Kalinowski said beside that reason, he had little knowledge of the specifics of the law. He said regardless of the controversy, his duty is to see to it that all laws are enforced.
According to media reports, there is little chance Conyers’ legislation will receive Congressional support, at least at this point.