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hate crimes

  • Democrats in the South Carolina Senate have turned debate about a bill to set guidelines for history curriculum on subjects like slavery and segregation into discussion about why the body can't take a vote on a hate crimes bill. South Carolina and Wyoming are the only states in the U.S. without a law allowing extra punishment for a violent act that a judge or jury has determined is a hate crime. Democrats have vented their frustration that the bill probably won't pass again in 2023. Republican leaders say crafting lessons to teach children about the wrongs of slavery and segregation would do more to stop hate than the hate crimes bill.
  • Two survivors of a 2015 racist massacre that killed nine of their friends at a Charleston church say South Carolina's lack of a hate crimes law is an insult to what they suffered through at their Bible study. Polly Sheppard and Felicia Sanders told a group of state senators Tuesday it sends a message that the state isn't serious about stopping the kind of wickedness that led to the massacre at Emanuel AME. South Carolina and Wyoming are the only U.S. states without a law giving stiffer penalties for crimes motivated by someone's race, sexual orientation, religion or disability. The House and a Senate subcommittee have approved the bill, which died on the Senate floor last year.
  • The South Carolina House has passed a hate crimes bill. But Wednesday's vote sends the bill to the Senate where such a proposal has died in the past. Senate Republicans refused to hear it last year, even at the urging of a survivor of one of the 2015 killing of nine black members of a Charleston church.
  • A bill that would make South Carolina the 49th state with a hate crime law is making its way through the House. A subcommittee Thursday unanimously advanced Rep. Wendell Gilliard's proposal. The pursuit of enhanced state penalties for hate crimes got renewed attention after an avowed white supremacist murdered members of the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the U.S. South in 2015. But no such proposal has become law in the years since. The bill allows harsher punishments for perpetrators of violent crimes motivated by their perception of someone's race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability.
  • After mass shootings, the loss felt by marginalized groups already facing discrimination is compounded. Some public health experts say the risk for mental health issues is greater for the groups — communities of color and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community among them. The trauma is especially acute when the shootings happen at schools, churches, clubs or other places that previously served as pillars of those communities. Some have rebuilt their spaces, some are still working to rebuild, and some never will reopen.
  • Supporters have urged South Carolina senators to pass a hate crimes bill in the last eight days they can take action on legislation. Backers of the bill turned Wednesday to one of the survivors of one of the most heinous racist shooting attacks in memory to press their case. They showed the Senate chamber a two-minute video Wednesday of Polly Sheppard. Sheppard says on video that legislative inaction on the measure is giving a safe haven to hate. Sheppard's life was intentionally spared at Emanuel AME in Charleston while nine other Black parishioners were killed in 2015. South Carolina and Wyoming are the only U.S. states without hate crimes laws.
  • The parents of a mentally ill Black man who died in a South Carolina jail are calling for state lawmakers to pass both a hate crimes law and a bill specifying excessive force by officers is illegal. Jamal Sutherland's parents appeared Wednesday with members of the Black Legislative Caucus who are unhappy the proposals have stalled in the General Assembly. Sutherland died in January 2021 after he was shocked by employees who then kneeled on his back until he stopped breathing. The hate crime bill passed the House but is stalled in the Senate. Another bill supported by Sutherland's family would specify officers using excessive force is a crime.
  • South Carolina remains one of only two states without a hate-crimes law, and proponents worry that efforts in the Legislature are stalling to increase penalties for crimes committed against minorities and others victimized by prejudice. The push for a state hate crime law started in 2015 after nine African Americans were killed in a racist attack during a Bible study at Emanuel AME church in Charleston. A bill calling for harsher penalties for hate crimes has passed the House, but will fail to become law if it doesn't pass the Senate. Several Republicans are blocking the bill, saying it is unnecessary since there is a federal hate crimes law.
  • Republicans in the South Carolina Senate don't appear to be in any rush to make their state the 49th in the county to pass a hate crimes law. Democrats in the House gathered Tuesday to talk to reporters and put pressure on senators to act on a bill that adds penalties to violent crimes based on someone's motives. The House passed the bill in 2021, although it removed hate crime penalties for property crimes such as painting a swastika on a synagogue. Senate Republicans say police and prosecutors do a good job handling hate crimes without a separate law. If the bill doesn't pass this year, supporters will have to start all over again.
  • Supporters of making South Carolina the next-to-last state in the U.S. to pass a hate crime law acknowledged Wednesday they are running out of time in this year's legislative session. A House-passed bill was sent to the full Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday after Democratic senators asked their Republican colleagues on a subcommittee to hold off on their objections at least until the next step.