Friends, family of slain man hold candlelight vigil at State House - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Friends, family of slain man hold candlelight vigil at State House

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A vigil will be held at the State House on Tuesday for a young man believed to be a victim of a hate crime.

Back in May 2007, 20-year-old Sean Kennedy died outside of a Greenville bar. Kennedy was an openly gay man.

Deputies believe then 18-year-old Stephen Moller insulted Kennedy about his sexuality and punched him while he walked to his car.

Friends and family of Kennedy met at the State House at 5:30pm to protest an early release for Stephen Moller and to hold a candlelight memorial for Kennedy.

There are no hate crime laws in this state, and Kennedy's family is working to change that.

It was just the kind of night Sean's mom says her son would have lived for.

"He always said, 'when I get older, I'm gonna change this, make sure people are treated equally,'" says Elke Kennedy.

But the fact is, Sean Kennedy's death brought many people together.

"This is my mission. Sean's death, in order for it not to be in vain, my job is to do whatever I can to change things so it doesn't happen again," says Kennedy.

Sean's death in Greenville was never deemed a hate crime, because hate crimes aren't recognized in this state.

But if you ask the folks at the rally, they happen.

"In high school, I was accosted constantly, dragged into a bathroom, had my face beat up and lost three teeth from it," said one person.

"We're not here to get revenge," said Kennedy. "This is about social justice, every citizen in South Carolina deserves protection."

Kennedy wants her son's killer to stay in prison. She took her concern to the parole board, asking for him to stay longer than eight months.

Whether it was a hate crime or not, she says its a light sentence for a heavy loss.    

"As a matter of fact he is here, he is with us tonight. Maybe that's why we have such a beautiful evening," she said.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center there are 45 listed hate groups in the state, one of the highest numbers in the US.

Reported by Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

Updated by Jeremy Turnage

  • South Carolina news on WIStv.comNEWSMore>>

  • The Latest: Blondin, Sato miss mass-start speedskating final

    The Latest: Blondin, Sato miss mass-start speedskating final

    Friday, February 23 2018 8:14 PM EST2018-02-24 01:14:57 GMT
    Saturday, February 24 2018 6:57 AM EST2018-02-24 11:57:23 GMT
    (AP Photo/Michael Sohn). Driver Nadezhda Sergeeva and Anastasia Kocherzhova of the Olympic Athletes of Russia take a curve in their third heat during the women's two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, ...(AP Photo/Michael Sohn). Driver Nadezhda Sergeeva and Anastasia Kocherzhova of the Olympic Athletes of Russia take a curve in their third heat during the women's two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, ...

    The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation says it isn't commenting yet on an alleged anti-doping rule violation by Russian women's bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva.

    More >>

    The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation says it isn't commenting yet on an alleged anti-doping rule violation by Russian women's bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva.

    More >>
  • NRA faces corporate backlash after latest school shooting

    NRA faces corporate backlash after latest school shooting

    Saturday, February 24 2018 4:36 AM EST2018-02-24 09:36:41 GMT
    Saturday, February 24 2018 6:55 AM EST2018-02-24 11:55:48 GMT
    (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File). FILE- In this Feb. 15, 2006, file photo, BlackRock headquarters is shown in New York. U.S. companies are taking a closer look at investments, co-branding deals and other ties to the gun industry and its public face, the ...(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File). FILE- In this Feb. 15, 2006, file photo, BlackRock headquarters is shown in New York. U.S. companies are taking a closer look at investments, co-branding deals and other ties to the gun industry and its public face, the ...

    NRA faces corporate backlash after latest school shooting.

    More >>

    NRA faces corporate backlash after latest school shooting.

    More >>
  • The Latest: Official: 18 soldiers killed in west Afghanistan

    The Latest: Official: 18 soldiers killed in west Afghanistan

    Saturday, February 24 2018 1:15 AM EST2018-02-24 06:15:26 GMT
    Saturday, February 24 2018 6:47 AM EST2018-02-24 11:47:06 GMT
    (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini). Security forces inspect the site of a suicide bombing in the diplomatic area of capital Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018.  Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said several people were wounded in Saturday's a...(AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini). Security forces inspect the site of a suicide bombing in the diplomatic area of capital Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said several people were wounded in Saturday's a...

    Afghan official says at least three security personnel have been killed in separate suicide bombing attacks in southern Helmand province.

    More >>

    Afghan official says at least three security personnel have been killed in separate suicide bombing attacks in southern Helmand province.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly