KKK pamphlets, profane banners prompt discussion of Bias Crime Bill

Voting on a piece of legislation targeting hate crimes has been delayed by the Indiana Senate committee, but Rep.Sally Siegrist says recent events in our area are keeping the conversation of a Bias Crime Bill on the table.

Posted: Jan 24, 2018 7:12 PM
Updated: Jan 25, 2018 9:15 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Voting on a piece of legislation targeting hate crimes has been delayed by the Indiana Senate committee, but Rep. Sally Siegrist said recent events in our area are keeping the conversation of a Bias Crime Bill on the table.

A bias incident is different from a hate crime in that it doesn't necessarily involve violence. Examples include graffiti or distribution of hate-group literature like the pamphlets found in downtown Lafayette or the banners displayed at the church in West Lafayette.

Indiana is one of five states that doesn't have a hate crime law. However, that could soon change.

Surveillance video taken just after midnight on January 12, shows a man carrying a plastic bag in downtown Lafayette.

He stops to drop something in front of McCord Candies. Later that morning, many business owners found pamphlets at their storefronts.

The language on them shocked Purdue University student, Jasmin Allen.

"When I was reading the article a lot of people were saying you know freedom of speech, which it is but you know you want to know something can be done when stuff like that happens," said Allen.

The pamphlets encouraged people to join the KKK.

While the man in the video didn't do anything illegal, people said a law focused on bias-motivated crimes would make them feel safer.

"With the resistance fair and then the banners and leaflets that are around town I mean there's obviously issues out there of people that are willing to commit violence and hate crime," said Annarino.

Dan Annarino said the pamphlets were bad enough, but seeing the language on the Unitarian Universalist Church means it's time for a change.

"We can't just sit here and spin our wheels and go well this too shall pass, that's what happens a lot of times and you have something really bad happen and hopefully we can avoid that," said Annarino.

Rep. Sally Siegrist said changes could be coming soon.

"I want my community to be safe and I want everyone who lives there to be safe and I don't think that should have anything to do with their gender or their race," said Siegrist.

She supports the bill and plans to vote for it, but doesn't necessarily think it will solve the issues.

"I've not seen any of that data. If it's out there I would love for somebody to point me to it because I would be very interested in knowing whether or not it's a successful tactic if it's not then we need to figure out what is," said Siegrest.

Annarino said he's glad someone is thinking about it.

"Something's gotta be done, it's a tricky issue and there's complications but gotta do something," said Annarino.

The Senate bill would increase punishment if perceived or actual characteristics can be proved in harming another person. It would also require law enforcement to notify the FBI of bias-motivated crimes.

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