I wrote a piece 9 months ago asking the question:

Should Michigan citizens be put into a Michigan run hate and bias database which will record incidents that don’t rise to the level of a crime but they believe are part of a group that expose’s hate?

Michigan Attorney General and Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director Agustin Arbulu believe so.

The rest of the piece is as follows with an update to this issue at the end:

I cannot believe that I even have to report about this.  Why would anyone believe there should be a state-run database of people and groups that the Attorney General believes are part of a hate group that committed no crimes or advocated for any such crimes to occur?

The Detroit News is reporting that Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel announced plans for a hate crimes unit in her office that will house this database. This hate crime unit will include a minimum of one prosecuting attorney and one full-time investigator. The AG’s spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney stated this new unit will fight against hate crimes and review any groups identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The AG’s spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney was quoted in the article stating:

While the SPLC is a good place to start when investigating these issues, we will rely on our independent research and not just the SPLC designation.

My thought is who cares who list people and groups as hate groups or does their own independent research, if the person or group never committed a hate crime or advocated for others to commit hate crimes they do not deserve to be put on a list or in a database.

Have these people never heard of the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment, let me remind them.  The First Amendment of the Constitution is as follows:

The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition.  It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices.  It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely.  It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.

I am surprised that Michigan’s AG, who is a lawyer, did not know or understand what the First Amendment means.  It is called “Free Speech”.

Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director Agustin Arbulu was quoted in the article regarding the SPLC’s hate list:

These groups range in ideological extremes from anti-Muslim to anti-LGBT to black nationalists and white nationalists…Particularly of concern, over one-half of the identified groups are located east of US-23 between Flint and Ann Arbor.

The problem I have with this database is the SPLC will list you as a hate group even if you or your group has never committed a hate crime or advocated for anyone else to commit a hate crime.  The SPLC will list you as a hate group solely on what you have the audacity to say.  Is this the type of country you want to live in?

As an example, the SPCL listed a group in Ferndale Michigan on their list because they have the audacity to believe that marriage should be between a man and woman.  The group is called Church Militant/St. Michael’s Media and is listed SPLC as an “anti-LGBT” hate group.

The group's editor-in-chief, Christine Niles was quoted in the article stating:

We’re not entirely sure what that means…We have a right to believe that without being called a hate group.

Let me give you another example, Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director Agustin Arbulu spoke about an incident in Lansing over President’s Day weekend.  He stated that a group of people, who they believe came from a group called Patriot Front, where handing out fliers that stated: “Keep America American”.  In these fliers, they encouraged anyone to “report any and all illegal aliens.” The fliers also included a phone number for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and their website.  The SPLC has labeled the Patriot Front as a white nationalist group.

Is Michigan's Department of Civil Rights Director Agustin Arbulu and the SPLC now advocating that the citizens of Michigan or quite frankly anywhere in the United States should not report on people who break the law?  Under their theory, if you report on someone who broke a law you are part of a hate group.  Is this the society you really want to live in?

In a statement the Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director Agustin Arbulu said:

It is disappointing to see groups like Patriot Front targeting diverse areas like Lansing's Old Town district. But know this, we are watching and we won't allow hate to divide us

“We are watching you”, interesting choice of words.

I would agree if people or a group committed “hate” crimes or advocated for others to commit “hate” crimes then fine list them in a database and watch them.  If people or a group did not commit “hate” crimes or advocated for others to commit “hate” crimes then they should not be listed in any state or federal database.

This is a direct attack against free speech and expression.  If you advocate for this type of database realize the next AG of Michigan might believe what you say or express is considered hate speech and now you are listed in Michigan’s hate and bias database.

The update to this ongoing issue is as follows:

The Thomas More Law Center has filed a lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims on January 9, 2020, against AG Nessel for her refusal to comply with Michigan’s FOIA.

In a press release Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of Thomas More Law Center, which currently represents Church Militant and its Founder and President Michael Voris, commented:

This lawsuit is about the right of the people to know what their public officials are doing. We believe that Attorney General Nessel targeted Church Militant because of its stance on traditional marriage as she had done in the case involving St. Vincent...The combination of actions by the Attorney General Nessel, the Department of Civil Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center have a chilling effect on the freedom of speech and religion not only of Church Militant, but every religious group in Michigan that stands for traditional marriage.

The press release went on to inform us:

Astonishingly, Nessel’s office admitted in its response to Thomas More Law Center’s FOIA request that:

  • It had no policies in place to safeguard the constitutional rights of individuals who committed no crime but are being investigated for espousing traditional marriage.
  • It has no clear definitions of “bias incidents” or “hate crimes” against LGBT persons that are backed up by Michigan statutes or court decisions.
  • The AG’s Office failed in its FOIA response to provide any clear policies or parameters governing the prosecution of hate crimes. Nor does it have a clear definition of what constitutes a “hate group.”

The Thomas More Law Center, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, defends and promotes America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life.

I will be speaking with Richard Thompson about this issue this week on my show, The Live with Renk Show.

The Live with Renk show airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon, to let me know your thoughts call (269) 441-9595