Local news

Task force joins hate crime probe

THURSDAY, FEB. 4, 2010

Group hopes reward leads to tips on racial incidents

The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations is offering up to $1,000 for tips leading to the solution of any of the hate crimes that have plagued the Inland Northwest since spring.

The task force is working with Crime Stoppers of the Inland Northwest to collect tips and is asking other organizations and individuals to pledge money to the reward fund. That money would not be disbursed unless it led to the resolution of a hate crime, a task force news release said.

“We shall send a message that the people of Coeur d’Alene, Kootenai County, northern Idaho and the Inland Northwest will never tolerate hate crimes or malicious harassment of our citizens,” Marshall Mend, a founding member of the task force, said in a prepared statement.

Recent incidents of racial harassment and assaults include a noose left on the doorstep of black residents, beatings of Native American and black men, spray-painting of swastikas on vehicles and the pasting of a swastika sticker on a human rights education center. Three men are due to go to trial later this month for their alleged involvement in the racial harassment of a Hispanic family in Coeur d’Alene.

Coeur d’Alene Police Sgt. Christie Wood, a member of the task force board, will serve as liaison to Crime Stoppers. The task force has supported victims of hate crimes for three decades through criminal prosecution and civil action, the release said.

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