Faith-based leaders call on SC lawmakers to pass hate crime legislation

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COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- Two communities are still healing after attacks on the Jewish Community during the Hanukkah holiday.

The hate crimes have called many to revisit the country’s and state’s laws, as well as, anti-semitic views that led to the attacks.

Several people were at the State House Monday speaking against anti-semitism and racial attacks in the country while rallying for hate crime legislation in the state.

“We are here to stand together with the Jewish community in South Carolina and across this nation to say in a loud and bold voice, that hate will never win,” said Elder James Johnson with the National Action Network.

Johnson along with other speakers from different faith traditions addressed a small audience of press. The group wanted to deliver one specific message.

Representative Ivory Thigpen explained, ” We say this for the Jewish community that was recently attacked and all other groups whether that be religious, ethnic cultural orientation or whatever the case may be. We do not have space for hate in our country.”

The group visited historical alliances between the African American and Jewish communities.

“We come together as we did in Selma, where we marched together. African Americans and Jews, preachers and rabbis to denounce hate, racism and anti-semistism,” added Barry Abels, the director of the Columbia Jewish Federation.

The group also asked for unity and pressed the need for hate crime legislation.

Representative Thigpen continued, “We are 1 of 5 that does not have hate crime laws. We have no excuse when we harbor hate groups, when we see the incidents of hate crimes on the rise it is irresponsible on us as legislators to not pass laws that ultimately protect the people of South Carolina.”

At least 2 bills have already been filed for the legislative session dealing with hate crimes in the state. One of those bills would define a hate crime in the state and the appropriate penalties; the other would enhance the penalties already on the books for crimes based on hate.

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