COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -A new report released by the FBI this week shows an uptick in hate crimes in our state between 2017 and 2018. According to the report, slightly fewer hate crimes were reported nationwide but that’s not the case in South Carolina.
Here, there were 87 reported hate crimes in 2017, compared to 111 reported in 2018. That data is based what’s turned over to the FBI by various local and state agencies.
The report also shows that a majority of the hate crimes reported in our state, last year, were motivated by race, but there were also reported crimes based on religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.
The FBI has been collecting these numbers since Congress passed the Hate Crime Statistics Act in 1990, but South Carolina is currently one of only four states in the U.S. with no actual hate crime law. This means information provided for the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics Report, is from agencies within our state, which voluntarily submit data.
State Representative Wendell Gilliard of Charleston County introduced House Bill 3063, or the Hate Crime Bill, into legislation earlier this year looking to change that.
“Human bill, human rights bill. What a person is, what they look like, or whatever the case, their religious background – we can’t draw judgement. We have to treat everybody with dignity and respect,” Gilliard said.
Even when nine people were killed and several others injured inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, in 2015, federal hate crime legislation had to be used to prosecute the shooter.
Rep. Gilliard says with his bill, committing a hate crime in South Carolina will mean an additional two to 10 years in prison, and between $2,000-$10,000 in fines, on top of what a person would already face for the crime itself.
“We want to bring South Carolina into the future. When you look at the history of South Carolina, you know that these groups – hate groups – are on the increase. So, that tells you there, that’s why hate crimes are on the increase,” Gilliard said.
House Bill 3063 would also make it mandatory for agencies to report hate crimes to the FBI.
You can view the full FBI Hate Crime Statistics Report by clicking here.