SC lawmakers push to pass hate crimes bill
CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) — Several South Carolina officials are pushing for hate crimes legislation to pass the Senate this year because our state is one of only two in the country without the law.
With devastating hate crimes affecting South Carolinas, state Rep. Wendell Gilliard says it’s important this year to make sure the bill passes.
“We owe it to Mother Emanuel, the people of Charleston and the people of South Carolina. This bill must become law,” says Gilliard.
The ‘Clementa Pinckney Hate Crimes Act’ is named after the late state senator and pastor who was killed along with eight others in the Charleston church shooting when a white supremacist walked into Mother Emanuel during a Bible study and opened fire.
The shooter has been charged federally with a hate crime, but that law does not exist in South Carolina. State Rep. Gilliard says he’s pushing to change that.
“They need to spend more time in jail, they need to pay more money, and the message needs to be stronger,” Gilliard says.
In 2021, the bill passed with bipartisan support in the South Carolina House of Representatives, but stalled in the state Senate.
“With this legislative process going through the chamber and the senate, the moment we got there, we cut the session. Fortunately, it was put on the Senate calendar,” says Gilliard.
Gilliard believes that passage of the bill would better equip South Carolina lawmakers to handle such cases.
“By having a hate crimes bill in the state, we can expedite cases better,” he says.
Gilliard hopes state lawmakers will come together and pass the legislation to move South Carolina forward.
“We can move forward and progress. We can create a dialogue and learn to respect everyone’s right as a human being to live on this land,” he says.
The bill passed the Senate subcommittee, but must pass a full Senate vote before it can be ratified and signed into law by Governor Henry McMaster.