Council Adds Age to Protected Classes for Nondiscrimination Ordinance
At the Casper city council meeting on Tuesday, the council passed on the first reading of three an ordinance adding penalties for assault done on the basis of various protected classes.
The ordinance would add a $750 penalty and/or up to six months in jail if they commit assault, assault and battery, or harming property based on various protected classes.
While dozens of people showed up to the meeting, only three people came to speak about the ordinance, all against the city adopting it.
Every councilmember, except for the newest and temporary members Kenyne Humphrey and Michael McIntosh, spoke about the ordinance, with all but councilmember Steve Cathy speaking in favor of it.
Councilmember Amber Pollock said that some acts are done in a way to hurt a certain community and the city should treat those more harshly.
"It's more harmful for someone to spraypaint a swastika on a synagogue than it is for someone to spraypaint a random symbol in an alley in Casper," Pollock said. "One of those things is property damage, which is a crime in it of itself, and one of those things is property damage with the intent to intimidate or incite violence against a particular group of people. And in that case, it's not just the property owner that's been victimized, it's the entire set of the population that shares that identity."
Vice-Mayor Bruce Knell said that they've heard from the United Parcel Service that they are behind this ordinance and appreciate that Casper is passing it.
Police Chief Keith McPheeters said that he made sure to include in the ordinance a high enough burden of proof so that people can't claim discrimination for no reason.
McPheeters said there are times in his career when he's dealt with crimes that were against people who are part of a protected class, and that Wyoming already treats certain groups of people differently in certain aspects, like pregnant people or teachers.
Several of the points raised by members of the public the council disagreed with, attorney Keith Nachbar mentioned that the ordinance didn't include age as a protected class.
Knell proposed an amendment to include age during the discussion of the ordinance, which the council unanimously agreed to.
The original protected classes for the ordinance include race, color, religion, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, and disability.
The amended classes added age between national origin and disability.
When passing the amendment on first reading, only Cathy voted against it.