MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and several businesses held a virtual news conference Monday to call on state lawmakers to pass a hate crimes law.
South Carolina is one of three states without a hate crimes law. Over 80 businesses have signed the S.C. Chamber’s letter urging legislators to take this step.
They said it will be crucial to make it clear that hate is not tolerated in South Carolina.
“We ask the House to finish the good work it started last summer and quickly pass House bill 3650,” Interim CEO of the S.C. Chamber Swati Patel said.
S.C. Chamber Chairman Tim Arnold said passing legislation like this would send a clear message.
“In order for South Carolina to remain a great place for people to bring both their businesses and their families, we have to demonstrate to the world that hate will not be tolerated here,” Arnold said.
The conversation regarding South Carolina’s absence of a hate crime law escalated in 2015 after Dylan Roof shot and killed nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
It’s been an ongoing topic among activists looking for racial justice as well. Big name companies like UPS, IBM and AARP South Carolina are just a few to support the S.C. Chamber’s push for reform.
Walmart is also on board.
“We feel it’s very important to get behind a hate crimes bill because the diverse people working in our organization and living in the state need to feel very valued,” Brooke Mueller with Walmart said.
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce joins the S.C. Chamber and South Carolina businesses in support of this kind of legislation change.
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Karen Riordan said in a statement, “We are in support of passing meaningful legislation to thwart hate crimes in our state. Businesses throughout SC support such a measure because we believe there is no place for hate in our state and we must make every effort to discourage it. We urge South Carolina lawmakers to pass a meaningful hate crimes bill.”
S.C. Chamber leaders said they’re starting a social media campaign to continue to urge state lawmakers to pass legislation regarding hate crimes.