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Interviews with news makers and discussion of topics important to Southwest Michigan. Subscribe to the podcast through Apple itunes and Google. Segments of interview are heard in WestSouthwest Brief during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

WSW: Speaking Up Against Hate Crimes

Rich Pedroncelli, The Associated Press

YWCA Kalamazoo Project Coordinator Emily Deering says whether it meets the legal definition of a hate crime, it’s important to recognize hate speech.

The YWCA has launched Project Speak Up to address hate crimes in Southwest Michigan. Deering says there have been reports of hate speech in some area schools. She says Project Speak Up will work in a number of ways, including legal clinics, support for victims of hate crimes and community education.

Community Education Specialist Demetrias Wolverton says the YWCA has not always worked on hate crimes, but the organization has focused on racial and gender equity. Wolverton says that makes the YWCA the right group to step in and work on the issue.

Interview with Demetrias Wolverton and Emily Deering - web version

Deering says there’s not a single blue print for the community. She says the response will depend on individual cases. Deering says support groups will allow for conversations between people who have been victims of hate crime. She says legal clinics will be available once a month that will allow victims to explore their legal options.

The YWCA is calling Project Speak Up a six month project, but Deering says “We aren’t going to solve all of the hate crimes, and we’re not going to address all of the issues” in six months. But she says it can lay the ground work for future work on hate crimes.

Deering says anyone seeking help for themselves of someone else should call the hotline at (269)-743-9463. Wolverton says, as will all YWCA services, calls to the hotline are confidential.

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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