Letter: Bias crime bill decision disappointing

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Editor,

The Noblesville Diversity Coalition appreciates the Senate Public Policy Committee’s strong bipartisan support for bias crime legislation. They approved Senate Bill 12 by a vote of 9-1 after the NDC joined central Indiana’s business, community and faith leaders to testify on the need for stricter sentencing of convicted offenders who target victims based on their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.

Unfortunately, the full Senate then amended SB 12 and removed law enforcement training and the list of immutable characteristics that is critical to protecting all Hoosiers.

NDC was disappointed to see Noblesville’s representative, Sen. Victoria Spartz, vote in favor of the amendment, stripping the bill of the very language that made it clear, inclusive and effective.

But all is not lost, thanks to the continued leadership of Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Forward coalition. The NDC calls on all members of the Indiana House, including Rep. Chuck Goodrich of Noblesville, to restore the effectiveness of this bill.

The problem of hate is very real for local communities such as Noblesville. Some of our coalition members have experienced hate firsthand. Others are worried for their children. In November, our high school was vandalized with racist threats of violence meant to intimidate people of color. This type of repulsive behavior is happening more frequently across Indiana, and it’s time to do something about it. Meanwhile, the business community is concerned that without an effective bias-crime law, Indiana will struggle to recruit young professionals while companies that offer high-wage, high-tech jobs will likely go elsewhere.

However, the NDC is not interested in merely “checking the box” on this issue with the passage of just any hate crime bill. We respectfully call upon the Indiana House to pass bias-crime legislation that is clear, inclusive and effective – and that means by listing the immutable characteristics that cover all Hoosiers. That means every race. Every ethnicity. Every religion. Every national origin. Every age. Every disability. Every sex. Every gender identity. Every sexual orientation. Everyone is covered – consistently across the state, in accordance with the U.S. Constitution and without any room for doubt among prosecutors and judges, whether the bias crime law would apply if the crime is motivated by a bias of any one of these characteristics.

Join us in sending a clear message that Indiana will not stand by and tolerate cowardly acts of violence and intimidation. By extending protections to every Hoosier, we can all feel safe – no matter where we live, work, learn and worship.

Members of the Noblesville Diversity Coalition

Connie Blanford, Noblesville citizen

Dan Cavallini, Noblesville citizen

Steve Cooke, deputy mayor, City of Noblesville

Laura Denis, director of Student Services, Noblesville Schools

Rev. Teri L. Ditslear, ECLA, Roots of Life Community

Bob DuBois, president, Noblesville Chamber

Pete Freeman, Noblesville citizen

Bryan Glover, co-owner, Mr. G’s Liquors

Jim Gorby, Noblesville citizen

Jennifer Harris, Noblesville citizen

Rev. Aaron Hobbs, Pastor, Noblesville First United Methodist Church

Brandi C. Holmes, Noblesville citizen

La Vella Hyter, Noblesville citizen

Cal Kadourah, Noblesville citizen

Michele Leach, Noblesville citizen

Wendy Nelson, Noblesville citizen

Dr. Beth Niedermeyer, superintendent, Noblesville Schools

Janina Pettiford, Manager, Love’s Hangover Creations

Rev. Patrick Propst, senior pastor, Faith Community Church

Dana Randall, Noblesville citizen

Lisa Sobek, Noblesville citizen

Luis Sorto, Noblesville citizen

Kim Sweet, Noblesville citizen

Becky Terry, executive director, Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville

Dwayne Thompson, Noblesville citizen

Jennifer Townsend, director of learning, Noblesville Schools

Emily Awour Wasonga, owner, Love’s Hangover Creations

Tamara Winfrey-Harris, Hamilton County Community Foundation

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