CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Local and state legislators, law enforcement officers, faith leaders and 400 community members came together Sunday at Synagauge Emanu-El to push for greater protections against hate crimes.
The Charleston Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Charleston coordinated with city leaders to hold the “No Hate, No Fear Solidarity Rally.”
Judi Corsaro, CEO, Jewish Federation of Charleston said the rally was in response to recent anti-Semitic attacks in New York and New Jersey in December.
“We couldn’t get up to New York so we really wanted to put something on here in our own Charleston community,” Corsaro said. “I think tonight was such an incredible opportunity to bring everybody together around the shared vision that we want a better world.”
Speakers focused on three main areas for activism; legislation, security, and education.
South Carolina is among a handful of states without a hate crime law. During the rally, Representative Wendell Gilliard spoke about his bill H.B. 3063 introduced to the statehouse last year that he said is more inclusive than current federal laws.
"This law is needed because we have targeted communities here that are left feeling vulnerable, fearful and unprotected by the law," Gilliard said.
According to the most recent FBI data, South Carolina saw an uptick in reported hate crimes from 2017 to 2018.
Although Charleston is one of the only cities in the state with a hate crime ordinance, Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said there is still a disconnect in knowing the true extent of crimes committed.
“We can only record those things if they’re reported,” Reynolds said. “I think we really need to continue to build that conversation because I think there are under-reported.”
Holocaust survivor Joe Engel was among the crowd. He said to make true change, the unity felt during the rally has to carry far beyond the walls of the synagogue
“We’re here for a certain time,” Engel said. "Why shouldn’t we love each other? Why should we discriminate each other?