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Why is S.C. hate crime bill stalled? Here’s the local reaction

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 11:20 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - South Carolina is one of two states without a hate crime bill.

If a racially motivated mass shooting happens, the person responsible would not face additional charges at the state level.

We spoke to a local advocate to get a reaction to the crime and a look at where the S.C. bill stands.

The bill is known as the Clementta C. Pinckney Act. It’s named after a victim of the Charleston church shooting six years ago in 2016. An additional five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for the suspect.

“It increases the fines and increases the penalties hopefully deter somebody from doing something like that,” state Rep. Bill Hixon.

A local advocate says it hurts to see crimes like this still happening.

Eugene White, president of Aiken County NAACP, said: “What bubbles to the top for us is: We are done dying. It’s ashamed to say that here in 2022, as a technologically advanced society as we are, we are still talking about the same sorts of heinous crimes.”

The bill passed by a vote of 71-28 in the House before making it to the Senate, where it sat until the session ended.

Hixon said: “If the bill didn’t pass this year, it isn’t going to pass. It will have to be re-filed. So, it will have to be re-filed in January of 2023.”

White says passing the bill would be symbolic of the state not tolerating racism, and he will not give up on it.

“We’re sad, we’re frustrated, we’re tired, we’re angry, but the good part is we are determined. It is so important that we push the issue, just like we’ve pushed other issues that we’re not going to tolerate hate, racism, and injustice any longer.”

What is the reasoning for not passing the bill through the Senate? During the session, state Sen. Shane Massey explained his opposition to passing the bill.

“South Carolina has taken a pretty tough stand on those issues, and we don’t have a need for something additional just so we can check a box that some groups have because it seems to me like that’s what this effort really is about,” he said.

Hixon did not vote on the bill. We asked Jerico McCoy what he thought about the bill stall out. McCoy is running against Hixon on the Democratic ticket.

“A lot of people weren’t there for the vote. I think that we need representatives who are truly going to represent our community and be there when it’s important,” said McCoy.

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