Letter: Lack of hate crime law embarrassing to state

From: Bob Pitman


Here are three reasons why hate crime legislation must be passed by the Indiana General Assembly:

  • June 1998: James Byrd, an African-American, was dragged by three white men behind a pickup truck for 3 miles along an asphalt road until dead at Jasper, Texas.
  • June 2015: A lone, white gunman murdered nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • June 2016: 50 people were killed and 53 more wounded by a lone shooter at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub frequented by LGBT participants.

What do these incidents have in common? They are among the most heinous hate crimes in United States history.

Hate crimes are defined as “any of various crimes (as assault or defacement of property) when motivated by hostility to the victim as a member of a group (as one based on color, creed, gender or sexual orientation).” The legislation in question specifically allows prosecutors to consider, and judges to enhance a sentence, when a hate crime is committed.

Currently, Indiana is one of only five states that does not have a hate crime law. Legislation has been introduced in the current legislative session to rectify this situation.

Please contact your elected state lawmakers: Sens. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, Eric Koch, R-Bedford, and Chip Perfect, R-Lawrenceburg, at 800-382-9467; and Reps. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, and Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, at 800-382-9841, to support Senate Bill 438.

Help end this embarrassment to the Hoosier state.