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Ann Arbor police: Two hate crime reports were false; a third investigation has stalled

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Several reports of possible hate crimes in Ann Arbor made headlines shortly after the election. But now police say two of the reports were false, and  investigation into a third report has hit a wall.

The first incident involved a woman who claimed that a man had threatened to set her hijab on fire if she didn't take it off. Police later determined the report was false.

According to a press release, the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's office declined to authorize criminal charges against the woman who made the report.

In another reported incident, a woman said a man scratched her face with a safety pin while she was walking along a sidewalk. After heavy investigation, police say that report was also false and have submitted a request for criminal charges.

Ryan Lenz with the Southern Poverty Law Center says false reports undermine reports of actual hate crimes, which he says have been popping up across the country since the election.

"It's the age-old boy who cried wolf parable. The next time it happens, law enforcement or law enforcement agencies may not be likely to believe the person coming forward, and that's the risk," Lenz said.

A third incident reported around the same time as the others involves a woman who says a man verbally assaulted her before pushing her down a hill.

Police say the victim and statements made by witnesses are credible, but there isn't enough information to identify any suspects. 

The investigation is currently inactive.

Rebecca Kruth is the host of All Things Considered at Michigan Public. She also co-hosts Michigan Public's weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.
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