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N.C. leaders push for Hates Crimes Prevention Act

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 5:19 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - State politicians in North Carolina are trying to gain traction on a new version of a bill that’s been discussed for years - a Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

The bill, if passed, would require police departments to report on hate crimes and file it a national database. They say its more important now than ever as hate crimes are increasing across the country.

“The one obligation to the people we represent is the health and safety of all the people we represent. And the emphasis should be on all people,” said Senator Mujtaba Mohammed of Mecklenburg County. He is one of the senators sponsoring the bill.

MORE: Asian American group calls for NC to pass Hate Crimes Prevention Act

He says right now it’s only voluntary for police departments to report hate crimes to the FBI’s national database. He says that needs to change because data drives policy change.

“We want our state and country, no matter your race, no matter how you pray, how you look, how you love, we want folks to know that North Carolina is a welcoming state and that we’ll welcome you with open arms in this state,” he said.

Senator Mohammed says the numbers will lead to accountability and then lead to change. Reverend LeDayne McLeese Polaski agrees.

“Having hate crimes legislation to be able to track that and have the wider community aware of what is the reality that other people are living with, of course that is incredibly important,” she said.

Reverend LeDayne McLeese Polaski is the executive director of MeckMIN, an interfaith collaboration that promotes compassion.

They’re hosting a vigil this weekend praying for hate, violence, and bias to end.

“One of the things that helps is to have that visibility. Every community will say when you ask them ‘do you experience violence? do you experience bias?’ They will all have those stories,” she said. “Whether it’s from the turban they wear, or the dreadlocks, or whatever it is. They all have the stories. From the minor inconvenience to the deadly reality. Chances are if you don’t have that experience, you don’t know that at all.”

The progress on the Hate Crimes Prevention Act though is slow. This is the third time a similar bill has been introduced but Senator Mohammed says the momentum is growing.

“We’re going to push this kind of legislation because again I want to celebrate the beautiful diversity because i genuinely believe NC is the greatest state in the greatest country. We have to accomplish that by having certain safeguards like the Hates Crimes Prevention Act,” he said.

If you’d like to attend the vigil, it’s this Saturday at 6 pm at the Sikh Gurdwara on University City Boulevard. Everyone is welcome to come. Masks are needed. They also ask both men and women to wear some sort of scarf over their head, which is customary in Sikh Gurdwaras.

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