Four Democratic N.C. House Representatives introduced a bill that aims to address the rise in hate crimes across the state.
House Bill 596, otherwise known as the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, would increase punishments for those who commit hate crimes, require additional training for law enforcement and prosecutors and mandate establishing a hate crimes statistics database.
The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program defines a hate crime as a crime that is motivated by the offender’s biases against characteristics such as race, ethnicity, religion, disability status, gender identity or sexual orientation.
“We're really trying to address this problem holistically because people's lives depend on it,” N.C. Rep. Caleb Rudow (D-Buncombe), one of the bill’s primary sponsors and the only Jewish member of the House, said.
The other primary sponsors of H.B. 596 are N.C. Reps. Nasif Majeed (D-Mecklenburg), Maria Cervania (D-Wake), Allen Buansi (D-Orange).
Majeed, the lead sponsor on the bill and the only Muslim representative in the House, said he’s had personal experience with hate and discrimination and wanted to seek out co-sponsors to represent the diversity of North Carolina.
Rudow said his motivation for co-sponsoring the bill stemmed from experiencing violence against the Jewish community.
“Every time I go into the synagogue, we have an armed guard there,” Rudow said. “Because, there have been real attacks on synagogues throughout the country, and we, unfortunately, have to be prepared.”
For Buansi, seeing the rise of hate crimes across the state motivated him to co-sponsor this bill. Particularly, he said a racially-motivated attack several years ago on one of his own constituents in Chapel Hill highlighted the need for stricter legislation.