UMKC hosts summit to prevent hate crimes and bullying

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Monday, a crowd of 300 people gathered on the University of Missouri-Kansas City's campus for an anti-hate crime summit. The FBI is hoping the public can help them put a stop to bullying and hate crimes based on race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and age.

The FBI also hoped those in attendance could help them to figure out what they can do to punish people committing hate crimes.

Former Kansas City Chiefs football player Bobby Bell opened the conference.

He spoke about the discrimination he faced in collegiate and professional football and the trouble he faced trying to buy a home in Kansas and Missouri because of his race.

"I looked at more than 200 homes. I wasn't able to buy a single one of them even though I had the money, all because I am black," he said.

He also said his white neighbors never considered him to be one of them until he made a name for himself in football.

"Only then was I considered one of them," he lamented.

SuEllen Fried, a national bullying expert from Prairie Village, also spoke to the crowd. She said the only way to stop bullying and hate is to educate children about the culture of kindness.

"I just think if we can create a culture of kindness where the thought of being hateful and cruel wouldn't surface, we could kick hate to the curb. We can all do that every single day," she said.

Across the country, 6,000 hate crimes were reported last year.

Sixty-seven of those were in the Kansas City. Most of those crimes were based on the victim's race.

Experts think the number of crimes is actually much higher because so many crimes aren't reported.

The FBI agents in attendance and United States Attorney Tammy Dickinson said they hope to take the feedback from Monday's conference and use it to craft specific laws against hate crimes.

"We'll never stand for these crimes. We need to develop a mentality of tolerance and of inclusion and not exclusion. The city, our town and our district are meant for everyone," Dickinson said.
 

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