INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Marion County Prosecutor wants Indiana to create a law that’s already followed in 45 other states. He wants there to be a hate crime statute.
His push comes on the heels of an assault investigation in Bloomington that police say involved a man yelling racial slurs and attacking a Muslim woman.
Speaking on the final night of his annual Citizen’s Justice Academy, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry’s message was clear.
“We as a community must say that it is unacceptable to commit a crime that is motivated by hate and bias,” he said to the crowd.
But even if the community feels that way, it’s up to lawmakers to determine if a hate crime law is necessary.
“Our goal is to give the judge the discretion if it’s a hate crime or not,” said State Rep. Greg Porter during an interview earlier this year.
He drafted a hate crime bill that was shot down during the last legislative session. Opponents said Indiana didn’t need one since there’s already a federal hate crime law.
“As a prosecutor’s office, we will vigorously prosecute anyone who commits a crime that is bias motivated, with or without hate crime legislation,” Curry said.
Indiana is one of five states that doesn’t have the law and without it, advocates said people targeted for the race, religion, gender and more lack protection.
“It not only harms that person and the group of people who share that person’s characteristic, but it also causes unique harm to the entire community at large,” said Miriam Zeidman, Midwest Civil Rights Council of the Anti-Defamation League.
She spoke to the academy as well. Within the crowd was Talia Brown who feels Indiana’s lack of a hate crime law is unfair. “It makes me sad for the people that have to experience (hate crime) and knowing that it can continue and there’s nothing that’s going to say ‘no this is what you did was wrong, not just being physically aggressive to somebody’,” Brown said.
Curry feels a hate crime law would change that. “We should enact (the law) in Indiana to send a message that we as a community do not accept that sort of behavior.”
Curry said State Rep. Porter is the lawmaker drafting the bill again for next year’s session.
He feels the bill will have a better shot next year in light of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which prevented businesses and organizations from discriminating against people based on their gender and sexual orientation.