South Carolinians push for hate crime legislation
COLUMBIA (WOLO): The frequency of hate crimes in South Carolina has almost quadrupled in just four years, according to data from the Anti Defamation League.
“In the last three years South Carolina law enforcement agencies reported 87, 111, and 68 hate crimes to the FBI respectively. In 2016, the number of hate crimes in South Carolina was just 23, explained Dr. Allison Padilla-Goodman, Vice President, ADL Southern Division.
South Carolina is just one of three states without hate crime legislation, but a current house bill, if passed, would change that, and hold South Carolinians accountable for committing bias motivated crimes.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott testified in favor of the bill Tuesday, solemnly remembering a string of January/February armed robberies that terrified Columbia’s Hispanic community.
“For three weeks in Richland County, the Columbia area, we had two individuals that terrorized our Hispanic community. Over a three week period, they robbed 27 Hispanics,” said Sheriff Lott.
Deputies charged them with armed robbery, but Sheriff Lott says it’s frustrating they couldn’t do more to hold them accountable. “Our community doesn’t understand it. You look at the community of Richland county and they’re going ‘why can’t you do something about it?’ and it’s hard to explain to them, our state doesn’t have that law. It’s very frustrating to know that if it was any other state, they would be charged an enhanced penalty for what they did.”
The bill would add penalties for crimes committed against a person because of their race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, or mental disability. Supporters believe this bill is long overdue, and passing it would let South Carolinians know they’re supported.
Charleston Jewish Federation’s Anita Zucker says, “It’s truly unacceptable that we allow these things to happen because we don’t have the legislation to do something about them.”
“I think it sends a message to everybody in our community that we do care, and we’re gonna stand with you and protect you,” said Sheriff Lott.
Those in opposition of the bill feared religious, faith-based beliefs would not be taken into account.