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Responding to a rise in hate crimes

“The Hate Crime Statistics Act (28 U.S.C. § 534) defines hate crimes as “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.”…

For a crime to be classified as a hate crime in the NCVS {National Crime Victim’s Survey} the victim must report at least one of three types of evidence that the act was motivated by hate: the offender used hate language, the offender left behind hate symbols, or police investigators confirmed that the incident was hate crime.’– Bureau of Justice Statistics (USA)

stop-hate-blogWhile hate crimes are not new in this country, statistics show there have been an increase prompted by the U.S. election process. In the 10 days after the 2016 election, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) counted 867 incidents of hateful harassment. SPLC survey data indicates that the results of the election process are having a profoundly negative impact on schools and students.

Furthermore, President-elect appointments and potential candidates pose a cause for alarm that hate crimes will increase and justice will not be served.

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have hate crime laws. Indiana is one of only five states that do not have a hate crime law. The other states include Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Wyoming.

no-hateDemocratic Senator Greg Taylor is sponsoring legislation in the Indiana Senate to make hate crimes illegal. The legislation will also provide training for police officers to accurately identify and report hate crimes to the state police and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

While Sen. Taylor notes that Indiana already requires law enforcement to report these incidents, only five of 200 agencies actually comply with the law.

The one caution I have about Sen. Taylor’s legislation is the possibility that the death penalty will be used, given the freedom of the judicial system to decide the penalty. I encourage you to express your support, but make known that the death penalty is not the solution you are seeking. You may contact Sen. Taylor at 317-232-9432, S33@indiana.gov, or by writing 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN, 46204.

If you are in a state that does not have such a law, urge your state legislators to sponsor such hate crime legislation.

A few resources:

Video: How to Disrupt Racism

Southern Poverty Law Center, founded in 1971, is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.

“SPLC’S Teaching Tolerance’s educational kits and subscriptions to its magazine are FREE to classroom teachers, librarians, school counselors, school administrators, professors of education, youth directors at houses of worship and employees of youth-serving non-profit organizations.”

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Sister Donna Butler

Sister Donna Butler has been a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for more than 60 years. Sister Donna has served in elementary education, parish ministry, diocesan social justice, as well as the Congregation’s liturgy office, archives department and social justice outreach. She also administered as the director of the Providence Volunteer Ministry. Sister Donna currently volunteers in outreach with Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College students.

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2 Comments

  1. Carol Reuss on December 14, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Sorry to say, a hatred is festering in NC. Elections brought out the worst in many people and places. It reinforced those who are racist and frightens good people who are their targets. Money flowing in to the state from Koch brothers, here as well as other states that they and their ilk have targeted, is showing up in in hurtful ways. Adding to the situation is the reality of the hurricane and the mountain fires. NC needs tourist dollars but be wary. Carol Reuss

  2. Joanne Murphy on December 19, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Thank you, Sister Donna, for bringing this matter to the fore. Based upon some very specific rhetoric during the campaign, it was predictable that there would be an increase in hate crimes. A certain element of our society that was targeted for support saw this rhetoric as a green light to demonstrate their hatred for certain minorities.

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