Community leaders call for legislative action on hate crimes, gun control

Several will be in attendance at a round table discussion Wednesday morning

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —In response to the tragic shootings in El Paso and Dayton, several groups are calling for action at the state and local level to prevent similar incidents from happening in the Palmetto State.

As more and more people lose their lives as a result of gun violence, several leaders say they don’t want South Carolina to be the next spot where a major incident occurs.

“We want to prevent race wars. We don’t think everybody should be arming themselves. We really need to figure out how stop white nationalists from committing these heinous crimes,” said Perry Bradley, the Founder of Building Better Communities.

Some are calling on leaders to make a stand and protect lives.

“We need answers from our Governor, we need answers from SLED and the FBI. What are they doing to track these white nationalist organizations,” asked Elder James Johnson, the SC State Chapter President for the National Action Network.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says more hate and extremist groups are forming across the state.

Johnson says the growing number of these organizations, along with the large number of historically black colleges and universities, makes the state vulnerable to racial violence.

With South Carolina being one of four states without a statute addressing hate crimes on the books, some say action in the State House is necessary to prevent future incidents from happening.

“You should be able to go to church. You should be able to go to the grocery store, to Wal-Mart, to the movie theater, to school. You should be able to do all those things, and as government, our first job is to keep you safe, and right now, we are not doing our job,” said Rep. Wendy Brawley (D-Richland County).

Brawley, along with fellow Rep. Wendell Gilliard (D-Charleston County), wrote a letter to Governor Henry McMaster (R-South Carolina), Speaker of the House Jay Lucas (R-Darlington County), and Senate President Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee County) to have an emergency session so lawmakers can vote on several hate crime and gun control bills.

Some community leaders say swift action at the state level will make a big difference towards giving them peace of mind.

“We definitely have to start passing legislation that takes care of the fact that these weapons of mass destruction are being sold to individuals, but also, we’ve got to take the proper measures to make sure and ensure that when our community gathers, they can gather safely without worrying about these shootings happening,” said Kimani Davis, Founder of the non-profit organization Ynotu2 Inc.

Several of these leaders will be having a round table discussion with law enforcement and local groups Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Decker Community Center (2500 Decker Boulevard in Columbia).

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