By Jaelin Engle
“A hate crime is identified as a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin,” according to the National Institute of Justice. Indiana, Georgia, Arkansas, South Carolina and Wyoming are the only five states that do not have the hate crime legislation active.
According to Indy star, towards the end of July, a young man decided to vandalize a shed that hid a huge garbage bin made of brick at the Congregation Shaaray Tefila (Religious Building) located in Carmel, Indiana. The criminal printed a very offensive symbol on the outside bricks for all to see. These symbols consisted of a Nazi flag along with iron crosses. According to the Indy Star, the man who had committed this crime is possibly facing 10 years in federal prison.
Governor Holcomb brings the hate crime legislation into consideration after recent event in Carmel and is fighting along with many others to put this law into place.
“I’ll be meeting with lawmakers, legal minds, corporate leaders and citizens of all stripes who are seeking to find consensus on this issue so that, once and for all, we can move forward as a state,” Holcomb said.
According to cga.ct.gov, many states with this law modeled the punishments of hate crimes to be similar. Assault with a biased intent could be punishable with the minimum of five years in prison and they may receive a fine up to $5,000 or more and vandalism, while a biased intent is a year in prison with the possibility of being fined up to $2,000.
According to the FBI, all law enforcers must look at a situation to recognize if the crime reported is truly a hate crime. People have the freedom of speech and the freedom of press. When it comes to certain situations, they must truly look into the action reported so that they may understand what happened and if it is a hate crime.
According to the FBI, most hate crimes are committed due to racial differences. In the year of 2016, around 57% of hate crimes were reported based off of racial differences. Religious differences was reported to be around 21%, sexual orientation was reported around 17%, gender identity was around 2%, disability was around 1% and gender was below 1%. Since then, these numbers have increased drastically and they show no sign of slowing down or stopping.
Senior Rajpreet Kaur goes into detail about her experiences dealing with hate crimes at WCHS.
“During my freshman year, 2015-2016, the After School app was becoming very popular. Students were criticizing and making fun of others, saying hurtful comments to them, only to push them down and to elevate themselves. At one time, however, somebody had written a message saying something along the lines of, ‘WCHS has a lot of terrorists,’ and my name was tagged,” Kaur said. “The post had spread to the entire student body and I had been the last to know. I was crushed, so angry that someone had actually said that. What hurt me more though, was that I knew that by targeting me, the person who posted it was actually referencing every Indian at our school. Nothing could be done of the incident, however, since the posts were anonymous.”
Governor Holcomb wants to help find voices to the people who have been attacked by hate crimes.
“No law can stop evil, but we should be clear that our state stands with the victims and their voices will not be silenced,” Holcomb said.