On June 17, 2015, nine African-Americans were killed during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. That same year, Walter Scott, an unarmed Black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer after being stopped for a non-functioning brake light in North Charleston, SC. At present, South Carolina is one of three states that does not have hate crime legislation.
Wendell Gilliard, a Democratic South Carolina state representative, has pushed for a state hate crime bill since 2015. South Carolina is now considering legislation that would allow prosecutors to seek additional penalties for crimes committed on the basis of hate because of a person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, or physical or mental disability.
Lawmakers momentarily removed protections for gay or transgender people from his hate crime bill earlier this month. The provisions were added back in, but then extra penalties for stalking, harassment and property damage were taken out of the bill—limiting the crimes that could be considered under the statute to just violent offenses. The bill has been approved by the full judiciary committee and is headed to the House floor within the coming weeks.
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