Feds in Dubuque to talk hate crimes - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Feds in Dubuque to talk hate crimes

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Federal officials from the Department of Justice and FBI were in Dubuque Wednesday to talk hate crimes in a forum hosted at Mindframe Theaters.

More than 50 people showed up to hear not only from federal officials, but from local law enforcement as well.

"We want to talk in general about what a hate crime is, how it's investigated, and where we might go from here," said Kevin Techau, U.S. District Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa.

While it wasn't solely in response to the alleged cross burnings that grabbed headlines a month and a half ago, that episode still fresh in the minds of many people in attendance.

"Somebody seen something, somewhere. It just a matter of people need to step up and take a stand for their community, and say enough is enough," said Anthony Allen with Dubuque's Human Rights Commission.

The forum addressed the broader questions about hate crimes, instead of focusing on that one particular case.

People learned what a hate crime is, how they're investigated, and got a better idea of how police can and are able to communicate with the community in sensitive cases.

It also aimed to open up dialogue about issues that might not always be popular.

"We always have a problem with discussing hate, and discussing differences. I think the more we dialogue and the more we begin to discuss the differences and the similarities, the more we can begin to work towards peaceful resolutions," Allen said.

Techau acknowledged that while this forum wasn't about the apparent cross burnings, his office has been paying attention.

"Hate crimes, it's a crime that impacts more the victim, it tries to send a message to the entire community. So it's something we're going to look at very closely, and we've been monitoring the case here," he said.

As for the investigation into those apparent cross burnings, Lt. Scott Baxter said Wednesday that they have identified some people of interest, but no arrests have been made.

He also noted they have sent some evidence to the state crime lab for processing, but otherwise, details are slim, because the investigation is ongoing.

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