Two months passed for South Carolina legislators to take action after a college student was kidnapped by , a man pretending to be an Uber driver.
State Rep. Wendell Gilliard compares that it has been more than six years since the racist killings of nine African Americans at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church. The Legislature has yet not taken action to punish victims of bias-motivated crimes against a specific group. This makes South Carolina the only state (the other being Wyoming) without a hate crime law.
Gilliard stated that the young woman was wrongly killed. “Nobody should meet their death in this way. We have the Mother Emanuel Nine bill, which has been patiently awaiting six years.
The ” Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act” is named after the pastor who was killed in the attack. Pinckney was also an elected state senator. For someone convicted for murder, assault, or any other violent crime that is motivated by hatred of the victim’s race, gender, religion, or disability, the bill could result in a maximum of five years imprisonment.
The Senate is currently considering the bill. The clock is ticking. The clock is ticking if senators fail to approve the proposal before May’s end.
Gilliard stated, “We have great senators out there.” “But now, we need them standing up. Have a little bit of backbone.
Multiple attempts to pass a hate crime law in Wyoming,where Matthew Shepard’s death led to the federal hate crime law, have failed repeatedly, including in 2021. The session begins Monday with no indication that the topic will be brought up.
Arkansas passed a hate crime bill in 2021. However, some supporters of the laws claim it is too weak for being included under this category. Georgia passed its own hate crime law in 2020, four months after Ahmaud Arbery was killed. Three white men chased Ahmaud around the neighborhood and then cornered him with a shotgun.
Marlon Kimpson, a Democratic State Senator from Charleston, called out eight of 29 Republicans who had prevented the bill from being brought up for discussion and asked them to “dig deeply in your hearts to let us have the debate.”
Kimpson said that if we can spend 30 mins debating electric dump truck, then we can spend some time discussing arguably the most dangerous crime that occurs.” Kimpson’s district includes Emanuel AME.
Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey said that the hate crimes bill was not a priority for Republicans, who comprise only 16 of the 45 current senators. Massey stated that the federal hate crime law was sufficient to prosecute the Charleston shooter who is currently on federal death row.
“The bill as it is written doesn’t protect anyone. It doesn’t make anyone’s life easier,” stated Massey, a Republican who hails from Edgefield.
Others have expressed concern that a hate crime bill could be used against Christians who speak out against gay marriage and other LGBTQ issues.
Some influential backers support the state law’s supporters. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott stated last year that he would like to see a hate crime statute to punish men who sent text messages saying “Let’s go get some Mexicans tonight” during three weeks of planning 17 robberies targeted Hispanics. This is unlikely to be the case at the federal level.
According to the state Chamber of Commerce, it is concerned that large companies may not want to locate or expand in a state where it doesn’t value all people.
“We must show the world that hatred will not be tolerated in this country,” Tim Arnold, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the state Chamber, said to reporters last year.
Sumter police arrested a 17-year old after he changed a traffic sign that said “honk, if you hate” and ended with a racist slur about Black people. The teenager was charged with aggravated violation of the peace. The charges are not sufficient, according to Sumter County Council Chairman James McCain Jr. and Sumter Mayor David Merchant. Because the crime was an attack upon every African American and equality-seeking person living in the area.
They wrote to Thomas McElveen, their local state senator, that they believe hateful acts are being committed by people motivated by certain biases and seek to terrorize not only an individual but the entire community.
As originally written, the bill would have provided additional punishments for harassment. The House voted to remove harassment and vandalism from the bill before it was passed last year.