DOWNTON CHARLESTON S.C. (WCBD)— A South Carolina lawmaker is working to legislate a hate crime law act in the state. South Carolina is one of two states without hate crime laws, and the state representative Wendell Gilliard said its time for a change.
Community members gathered to urge South Carolina lawmakers to pass the Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act.
The act is named after former state senator Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney. Pinckney was one of nine killed in the 2015 Mother Emanuel shooting. A white supremacist opened fire at the historically black church during bible study.
House of Representative Wendell Gilliard said the political system and government have let the people down, and we must do better to protect the city and state.
“We have failed our constitutes. We forgot how to govern. Suppose you are a good leader in whatever form of government, and you hear the cries of the wives’ mothers and the fathers, and you decide to stand with the party and not WE THE PEOPLE, instead of listening to us, the people., I’m here today to tell you that this will happen again, unfortunately,” said Gillard.
Elder James Johnson, CEO of Racial Justice Network, said if the state keeps ignoring the signs of these hate crimes, fatal consequences can happen.
“Dylan Roof got our attention. Our attention is what he wanted. This hate violence will not go away if we ignore desperate, dysfunctional people who will figure out a way to get our attention. They will fight each other for our attention. The only question is how we will stop it, and ignoring it will not make it go away,” said Johnson.
Merrill Townschapman, A Native Citizen from the holy city, said she wants the state to move forward and protect the people by amending a hate crime law act.
“We’re left behind everywhere. We don’t want to be left behind with this. This bill will support minorities. It will support all of us and crimes that are hateful,” said Townschapman.
The Hate Crime Act is currently in the South Carolina Senate, and lawmakers will return to Columbia in January.