Demonstration held at Vigo County Courthouse to express concern over hate crime law

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – “Indiana needs a comprehensive hate crime law” is just one of many signs that were held at the Vigo County Courthouse, Saturday afternoon. This in response to the hate crime law that was passed in early April that did not include protections that were once in the bill as it passed through the statehouse.

“We’re here to urge the general assembly and governor to understand this is a bogus bill and it needs to be fixed. We’re not asking for a repeal and replace, we’re asking for amending,” said Sylvester Edwards, president of the Greater Terre Haute Branch of the NAACP.

Saturday throughout the state of Indiana, NAACP chapters held demonstrations to allow community members to speak out against the law. Edwards says demonstrators are asking that the law be amended to include four specific protections.

“Sex, gender, gender-identification, and age,” Edwards said.

Community members at the courthouse were encouraged to sign a petition calling for this law to be amended that will be sent to Governor Holcomb. Demonstrators say they hope this petition will show the governor that Hoosiers are backing an all-inclusive law.

“At one time Governor Holcomb was strict about saying that we needed a very specific all-inclusive hate crimes bill, but unfortunately he’s accepted this as a compromise. So I just hope that when he hears from all these people, he remembers how he once felt,” said Chase Meehan, member of Student Coalition for Social Justice at ISU.

Meehan says demonstrations like Saturday’s are important to not only voice his concerns but to make sure others are also aware of the law that passed.

“A lot of them may not know the details of the hate crimes law and what happened. So it’s really important we get out here and show our legislators via the petition, via rallies like this, and contacting them directly ourselves. This is an issue that people care about,” Meehan said.

Edwards says the NAACP hopes to have 100,000 signatures state wide on the petition before it is sent to Governor Holcomb.

Edwards also says more demonstrations like today’s will be held throughout the state on June 1st.

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