Sacramento, CA — A California lawmaker is calling for the expansion of hate crime laws in the state following the violence witnessed at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia two weeks ago.
Democratic Senator Nancy Skinner is working to gather support for a series of bills and resolutions introduced in response to the event on August 17. SB 630 would expand the state’s existing hate crime statute of protections to cover individuals who are acting in defense or support of protected groups. Skinner references Heather Heyer, who was killed in Charlottesville. She says a loophole in the law would prevent the man, James Alex Field, who drove his car into a group of counter-protesters, from being prosecuted for a hate crime. The incident killed Heyer, and because the crime was not prompted due to her specific race, religion, sexual preference, etc., Field’s death would not have the enhanced consequences of a hate crime.
In addition, two separate resolutions have been introduced in the legislature, essentially stating that California denounces white nationalist and neo-Nazi acts of violence, and urges local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to use all legal options, including those relating to terrorism and hate crimes, to prosecute such crimes.