INDIANAPOLIS — Supporters of two proposed hate crime laws gathered in the Statehouse Tuesday afternoon to spread a message: enough is enough.
The Central Indiana Alliance Against Hate organized a Hate Crime Law Statehouse Rally in hopes of gaining attention and support of Senate Bills 418 and 271. About 100 residents and members of the CIAAH and partnering organizations gathered to hear speakers discuss why Indiana lawmakers should pass a hate crime law.
Indiana remains one of five states that currently does not have any law targeting hate crimes, or bias crimes.
“We are fed up,” said Trevor Baldwin, a member of the Indiana Association of the Deaf. “The time is now to move forward and progress.”
Baldwin, who is deaf, gave his speech in American Sign Language, teaching the crowd to clap like deaf people do, by shaking their hands in the air.
Baldwin said many deaf people are unlikely to report a hate crime against them. Oftentimes, he added, they lack the ability to let people know of the abuse.
“We believe that Indiana can do better,” he said.
Baldwin was one of 16 speakers who addressed the crowd on the importance of getting a hate crime law passed.
Senate Bill 271 focuses on bias crimes. If passed, it would require law enforcement officers to receive training to identify bias crimes and establishes a sentencing procedure for people who commit bias crimes.
Senate Bill 418 is another bill that focuses on bias crimes. The bill would make a crime based on characteristics of an individual an aggravating circumstance. It would also require law enforcement to report bias crimes to the FBI.
David Sklar, the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council government affairs director, said these bills will only be passed if everyone takes part and talks to their legislators.
“It’s time for the community to come together,” Sklar said.
Dr. Anita Joshi, a member of the greater Indiana Hindu community, spoke about Hoosier values.
She said Hoosiers have great heart, great power and great ability. She urged Indiana residents and lawmakers to be on the right side of history.
“Hate is not a Hoosier value,” she said. “Hoosiers value love.”
Kylie Carrithers, 33, attended the rally because she wanted to show her support for the passage of a hate crime law. She said having this type of legislation in Indiana would send an important message to both Indiana residents and people outside Indiana.
“It sends a message that Indiana is a place that is welcoming for all communities,” she said. “Not having a bill sends the opposite message.”
After all speakers had gone, Sklar encouraged everyone to stand up. Some held up signs that read “No Hate, Just Love.” Others wore colorful hats or pins. Some brought their children or their service animals.
This will be the year a hate crime law is passed in Indiana, Sklar said. It has to be.
“We need this,” he said. “We need this for all of us."
Sklar encouraged the crowd to stand up and cheer loud enough so everyone in the Statehouse could hear. He also told the crowd that the only way this will be passed is if they contact their legislators and tell them they want this law.
Indiana will no longer tolerate hatred or bigotry, he said.
“Enough is enough," Sklar said.
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