South Carolina Hate Crime bill one step closer to law

VIDEO: South Carolina Hate Crime bill one step closer to law

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina could become the 48th state in the nation to pass a hate crimes law.

In a 79-29 vote, the House of Representatives passed H. Bill 3620 through second reading on Wednesday. The proposal will enhance penalties for violent crimes motivated by hate.

The bill needs to go through a final reading before heading to the Senate. State Rep. Wendell Gilliard has been fighting for this bill since the 2015 tragedy at Mother Emanuel AME Church.

The bill has been named after late Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney, one of the nine victims of the church shooting.

“This is a very historic day, a very historic moment. It is a great day in South Carolina, as it pertains to the hate crime bill, because every step that it goes through now is somewhat historic,” Gilliard said. “It seems like this hate crime bill will now become law, and I would have met my commitment to my constituents back home in Charleston County.”

The bill has undergone many changes in the legislative process.

After protections for the LGBTQ community were removed from the bill, they were added back to the legislation before it passed.

Colleen Condon, a board member with the Alliance for Full Acceptance, says the bill is important to everyone and it is a product of a lot of organizations’ hard work.

“We have had several deaths in the last few years specifically due to hate someone attacking a trans woman of color because she’s a trans woman of color,” Condon said. “It is really critical that we have this to show the nice [things] out of South Carolina and make it clear that we’re not going to tolerate people that are physically attacking and hurting other people because of the differences between us.”

While a lot of progress has been made, non-violent offenses, like harassment and vandalism, have been removed from the bill. Gilliard says it will soon fall on the hands of state senators.

“Now it’s the time to call your state senators and ask them to amend the bill and put language that they see fit, that make this thing perfect,” Gilliard said.

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