Attorney General Keith Ellison hosted a day-long summit on hate crimes Wednesday at the Wellstone Center in St. Paul where he floated the idea of creating a countering violent extremism, or CVE, program for monitoring online speech.
Ellison participated in the first-panel discussion of the day, which focused on the challenges law enforcement agencies face in handling hate crimes. He was joined by a number of big names in the law enforcement community for the discussion, including Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Anders Folk, and FBI Supervisory Special Agent Michael Melcher.
Ellison’s office announced the summit in a news advisory sent out earlier this week.
“The day will feature four panels of expert testimony and discussion on the topics of research and context, law enforcement challenges, community impact, and the role of state, city, and local government,” said the press release.
Attorney General Ellison spent the month of October hosting community forums on the topic of bias-motivated crimes, including one in St. Cloud on white nationalism. He said Wednesday’s forum will serve as the basis for a forthcoming report on recommended changes to training, data collection, and statutes surrounding hate crimes.
A portion of the discussion focused on the difficulties in identifying when something crosses “from free speech and free speech monitoring to actually identifying crimes that are occurring,” as Evans described it.
The topic of the Countering Violent Extremism Task Force, a source of controversy in the Muslim community, was later brought up by Attorney General Ellison.
Ellison said he angered some of his Muslim friends (upset with CVE’s targeting of Muslim communities) by saying that “there’s nothing inherently wrong with CVE, the problem is it’s not applied where all of the threats are.”
“Online activity—yes, it’s freedom of speech, but if online activity is telling you this is kind of a danger zone right here, maybe, you know, FBI could say, ‘Look, what you’re doing’s not illegal. You can say what you want to say, but we just want you to know we are aware of you and we know that some of this rhetoric ripens into violence,” he continued.
“If I was a parent of a radicalizing kid, I think I’d be glad if a law enforcement said your kid hasn’t done anything yet, but we’re worried based on what they’re writing online,” Ellison added.
The second panel of the day focused on the “community impact of hate crimes,” while the third discussed the “role of state, city, and local governments” in addressing hate crimes.
The first panel discussion can be watched below;
Hate Crimes Summit
Panel 1: Hate Crime Law Enforcement Challenges https://t.co/QSEReU1w6d
— Attorney General Keith Ellison (@AGEllison) November 6, 2019
– – –
Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Keith Ellison” by Keith Ellison. Background Photo “Minnesota Capitol” by Gabriel Vanslette. CC BY 3.0.