By: C.A. Printup
The Michiana Social Justice Coalition met on Jan. 20 to discuss and aim to mitigate Indiana’s lack of a hate crime statute.
The coalition, which meets on the anniversary of the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, was based on teaching members of the community on how they can “take part in the legislative process and influence policy on hate crimes,” according to the event’s Facebook page.
This event was focused on hate crimes as Indiana is one of the five states that does not have a law or “extra layer” of punishment for crimes based on someone’s creed, race or ethnicity.
On Jan. 14, the South Bend Common Council unanimously voted to push for the state to pass hate crime laws.
“That was the only time that I was in a city council meeting, since we moved here in ‘94, that is the only time that I have personally have ever seen a standing ovation in response to unanimous vote. ….[T]heir resolution doesn’t have any legislative teeth, but their ruling does make it clear in South Bend, a city that has passed hate crimes protections in the city and the county, that we unanimously support this being passed statewide,” said April Lidinsky, director of the Women’s and Genders Studies program at IU South Bend.
While the first two annual events were about informing people, this one was about building relationships between groups of people such as The Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley and Islamic Society of Michiana.
“Relationships are what usually reduces hate,” Lidinsky said. “This year it was planned by the Michiana Social Justice Coalition. We wanted to look very specifically at legislative action as this is the aftermath of the  primary election where we had a really big turnout. We realized people had an interest in legislative politics.”
Groups that participated included the Civil Rights Heritage Center, La Casa de Amistad, The LGBTQ Center, The Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley, the Islamic Society of Michiana, Social Action Project, First Unitarian Church of South Bend, Pro Choice South Bend, Northern Indiana Community Coalition for Health Care and The Pasha Group.