South Carolina Still has No Hate Crime Law

Rebel_Flag_SC_capitol

attribution: Jason Eppink

By Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos

The Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s office and FBI have already begun investigating the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, as a hate crime. Some local authorities agree with that assessment.

“There is no doubt in my mind that this is a hate crime,” Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen told the Post and Courier.

But state officials won’t have the option of conducting their own hate crime investigation because South Carolina is one of only several states that still lacks a hate crimes law. Aviva Shen has the details:

County Rep. Wendell G. Gilliard, who represents the district where the targeted church is located, has fought for years to enact a hate crime law in South Carolina. But efforts to catch South Carolina up to the rest of the country have repeatedly failed.The bill Gilliard introduced during the last legislative session would have created penalties for assault or threats committed because of a victim’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, color, national origin, or age, as well as boost penalties for property destruction intended to intimidate the victim. Gilliard has also pushed to define assaults on the homeless as hate crimes.

South Carolina police reported 51 hate crime incidents in 2013, the latest available year of data. […] The state hosts 19 known hate groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, most of which are focused on white supremacy and racial hatred.

Fortunately, the federal hate crimes law was strengthened in 2009, allowing federal authorities to bring resources to investigating and prosecuting potential hate crimes in which local authorities either can’t or won’t do so.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos