Hate intimidation ordinance proposed in City of Clemson

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CLEMSON, SC (WSPA)–A proposed hate intimidation ordinance is on the table for the City of Clemson. Council members passed its first reading on Tuesday night.

City leaders said this proposed ordinance is for everyone in the community.

“So, being proactive. Let’s people know in the community this is something that we still care about. So, it doesn’t mean that it’s a lot of incidents occurring, we’re just saying we need to be proactive, so in the event that it does happen, we are prepared to be able to address it,” Alesia Smith, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Clemson said.

Smith said events in the passed, somewhat led the movement.

“We’re one of three states in the nation that does not have a hate crime bill, and then our state did not pass the one that was being proposed. So, we felt as a municipality it’s important to take the lead,” Smith said. “I think for South Carolina, it goes even further back when we had the Charleston Nine that was killed, and you had legislator himself, Pinckney, who was actually one of the victims.”

The proposed ordinance is aimed at stopping crimes or intimidation based on the victim’s identity.

“So, it can be race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, Smith said. “If we’re able to determine that the incident or the behavior was due to that individual’s identity, then this ordinance would hopefully apply to that situation.”

“I think it’s good. I think every city around this area Seneca and all, we need this badly because we do have a lot of hate,” Rosa Grayden, community activist said.

Grayden has lived in Clemson all her life, and said she has experienced it.

“I’ve seen it. In fact, I have encountered it without calling any names, but it’s kind of hard to talk to people or to any government in reference to things that happen to people,” Grayden said.

If passed, anyone who intimidates, harasses, assaults, or harms a victim or group, could be charged with a misdemeanor.

“Because we’re a municipality, we’re only allowed to, it’s a misdemeanor and it’s an up to $500 fine or up to 30 days in jail,” Smith said. “The other part of it is, instead of a fine, you may have to require to go through counseling or some type of educational program, as well.”

“See for Clemson, to find that this is an important issue, I would love to pat each one of them on the back, because this issue is important for all genders, all races,” Grayden said.  

Smith said they want to make it known that Clemson is an inclusive environment.

“We want to show solidarity to members of our protected classes, to say you’re welcome here, we care about you, we want to protect you, and we want you to feel safe,” Smith said.

Smith confirmed that people could be charged with other underlying criminal acts, but this misdemeanor will stand and be addressed as a separate offense.

“For cases that we can address, depending on the act, it can be added to, but there are times where it can actually be the only, or it could be both,” Smith said. “What that would be is that you could be charged separately. So, you can be charged and have different counts, but then also have a count of bias, and so that would be addressed separately from the actual other incident that has occurred.”

A second reading will go before council on July 19, and if it passes, the ordinance will go into law immediately.

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