WISH- They hit the streets to make their voices heard. Tuesday, dozens of people from different walks of life and organizations from across the state gathered at the Statehouse to rally for a hate crime law.
Rajesh Patnaik said vandals targeted his family’s Indianapolis business in September 2017, marking it with hurtful graffiti.
Patnaik said “Some of the things were like “Hindu traitors” “Satanists live here.”
He went on to say “We were just shocked that somebody would do that to us.”
Patnaik and dozens of people rallied Tuesday morning inside the Statehouse, urging lawmakers to pass a hate crime bill this session.
Gurinder Singh, Founder and Chairman of SikhsPAC USA said “Every human being needs economic opportunity, safety and security, dignity and respect.”
Indiana is one of five states that doesn’t have a law against crimes motivated by biases, like sexual orientation, religion or race.
Advocates at Tuesday’s rally, like Elizabeth Longcore, feel like 2018 could be the year.
Elizabeth Longcore, with the Indiana Statewide Independent Living Council said “Really clarify and actually define what is a hate crime, because it manifests itself differently toward people with disabilities.”
Early last year, the Indiana Family Institute spoke out against a state hate crime proposal, saying the bill would politicize crimes. But it is legislation that Marion County’s Prosecuting Attorney continues to push for.
Terry Curry, Marion County’s Prosecutor said “If it’s vandalism, if it’s battery, batter, no matter what the crime If it’s motivated by hate, by bias, then what this bill does is allows the court to impose a more severe sentence.”
Terry Curry said this is the 3rd year his office has advocated for the law.
“For us, we as a state send a countervailing message ‘that we’re not going to tolerate this, that this is unacceptable and we’re going to treat it more severely than we might have otherwise,” Curry explained.
Curry says they’ve gotten some encouraging signs that this might be the year. Another organization’s spokesperson we talked to said they’re cautiously optimistic about the law passing, noting strong opposition to the legislation.