AUGUSTA — Governor Janet Mills signed into law a bill sponsored by Senator David Miramant, D-Camden recently.
The new law, LD 491, “An Act To Create the Crime of Hate Crime False Public Alarm or Report,” establishes that any false report of a crime motivated by race, color, religious practice, disability or origin can be classified as a hate crime.
“This past year, the news was dominated by stories of people responding to racial injustice all across our society. The incident in Central Park last spring specifically sticks in my memory, when a white woman called the police on a Black man for asking her to leash her dog in accordance with park rules,” said Sen. Miramant. “Racism is endemic in our country. Racism in all its forms should be condemned and addressed here in Maine. I want to ensure that there is a strong disincentive to hateful behavior and beliefs.”
As amended, LD 491 allows for the sentencing of a person convicted of false public alarm to consider the discriminatory motive of the individual making the false public alarm or report.
It is already a crime to make a false report to law enforcement, a government agency or utility, or an emergency responder.
LD 491 strengthens the power of the justice system to prosecute individuals with discriminatory motives.
The law will go into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die.