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Awareness: Columbia leaders talk voting, absence of a hate crime bill in SC, and unsolved murders in Columbia

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 10:56 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2021 at 7:49 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - This week’s Awareness show is filled with a heavy-hitting lineup of movers and shakers in the Midlands, each of who goes one-on-one with Billie Jean Shaw about topics that impact you!

From Columbia’s mayoral race to the status of the hate crime bill in South Carolina to the nearly two-dozen unsolved murders in Columbia, stay in the know with this week’s ‘Awareness’ show.

Election season is here and on November 2nd, thousands will be hitting the polls for local elections across South Carolina including here in the Midlands.

From school board members to county council leaders to the closely watched mayoral election in Columbia, each race is important and has a direct impact on your life.

Think about it, your local leaders make decisions about public safety, school funding, affordable housing, and much more.

But research shows local elections typically have low voter turnout.

Political analyst, business owner, and former candidate for Richland County Council Hamilton Grant and Political Analyst, founder and CEO of Blueprints Strategy Antjuan Seawright explains the importance of voting in local elections.

South Carolina joins Wyoming in being one of two states in the country that has yet to pass a hate crime bill.

The future of South Carolina’s proposed hate crime bill -- remains unknown as lawmakers in the Senate have not passed the bill.

If passed, the hate crime bill which is named after Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, one of the nine victims killed in the brutal racist attacks at Mother Emanuel church in Charleston back in 2015, would put the following into law:

Anyone convicted of a violent crime for targeting a victim because of their race, color, creed, religion, sex, gender, age, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability would be charged with a hate crime and face additional time in prison -- up to five years, that’s on top of other charges.

J.T. McLawhorn, President and CEO of Columbia’s Urban League explains how the absence of a hate crime bill in South Carolina is hurting the state.

In Columbia, since 2019 there have been 15 murder victims whose cases are still unsolved.

The youngest victim is 7 years old, the oldest victim is 94 years old.

Columbia police have posted pictures and outlined the details of each unsolved case on their website.

Deputy Chief Melron Kelly with Columbia Police says many of these incidents could be solved if people who witnessed them would just speak up.

If you have any details to help police solve an unsolved murder, call 1-800-CRIME-SC.

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