On June 18, 2019, the Iowa City City Council passed a new hate crime ordinance, which expanded the crime to include both harassment and trespass.
Under State code, only assault, arson, and criminal mischief could be considered a hate crime. The new ordinance passed by Council adds both harassment and trespassing to the list when committed because of a person's race, color, religion, creed, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, or marital status.
ICPD have seen an increase in reported hate crimes the last few years, with six calls for service in connection to a hate crime in 2017 and 14 in 2018.
"While harassing another person is already unlawful under state law, such intimidating or threatening communication directed at someone because of the color of their skin, who they are or what they believe is an abominable act that our community takes seriously," Police Chief Jody Matherly said. "This ordinance will send a strong message that should a person choose to commit such hateful acts, the punishment will be severe."
First offense for a hate crime can lead to a fine of at least $300 and not to exceed $625, and imprisonment of at least three days and not to exceed seven days. Subsequent offenses incur a fine of $625 and 30 days imprisonment.