Letter: Native Americans are victims of hate crime

"In 2001, Students and Teachers against Racism reported that American Indians and Alaska Natives experienced the worst rate of violent crime in the nation in 2000, according to a Department of Justice study. Native Americans were the victims of violence at rates exceeding every racial and ethnic group. Based on statistics collected in a nationwide survey, Native American men and women were victimized at a rate of 52.3 per 1,000. For a state whose second-largest population is the Native American population at 62,283 people, that's a lot. That is a little more than 1,190 Native Americans in South Dakota who are the victims of Truckenmiller's "so-called 'hate crimes.' "

I do not believe that our Founding Fathers intended that the First Amendment would be used as a shield to protect bigotry and racism. From the injustice of segregation to the injustice of the countless minority groups and the suffering they have endured throughout lifetimes, it is my hope that our leaders will stand up and fight against such hate.

I ask you to please advocate for this law and show the country that you care about justice for all citizens by writing or calling Sens. John Thune and Tim Johnson in support of HR1592 (which has been renamed the Matthew Shepard Act).

Hate crimes don't just hurt individuals. They hurt communities."

Get the Story:
Brittany A. Wiese: Indians target of hate crimes (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 7/26)