Community hopes Georgia’s first ‘Hate Crime’ Bill passes Senate

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Georgia is one of five states that do not protect people against hate crimes. That’s according to the NAACP.

However, a bill passed by lawmakers brings the state closer to punishing those who commit hate crimes.

There are discrimination laws in employment handbooks which say employers can’t discriminate based on your race, gender, or religion.

Hate crimes headline the news across America. The targets are minorities and the Lesbian Bi Gay Trans Queer (LBGTQ) community.

“Stop teaching people to hate one another because they’re different. It’s not something you’re born with. It’s what you’re taught,” Macon’s NAACP Director Gwennette Westbrook said.

Akasha Vidalle identifies as a non-gender-binary person. A non-gender-binary person doesn’t identify as male, female, or transgender.

Just like any young adult, Vidalle loves going out and having a good time. But Vidalle says they always worry about safety from those who disagree with their life choices.

“Then the guy was like ‘Oh, y’all some dudes.’ It really scared the both of us, so he pulled out a knife. From that moment I was just like if the club security wasn’t out there, we could have been hurt,” Vidalle said.

During Thursday’s legislative session in Atlanta, the House passed Bill 426.

If the Senate passes the bill, it would be Georgia’s first hate crime legislation.

“It’s a protection that we need,” Vidalle said.

The bill would punish people who commit hate crimes and let people like Vidalle feel more safe.

“Hate crime is a form of evil and so we have to make sure that this bill is passed to protect those people who are being targeted,” Westbrooks said.

If the bill becomes law, then those who commit hate crimes are convicted, depending on the offense. It may be a misdemeanor with a minimum three months sentence and a fine or a felony of a minimum two years sentence.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website, 250,000 people become victims to hate crimes every year.
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Tanya comes all the way from Chicago, Illinois. She’s a city girl that’s excited to be a part of Middle Georgia’s community and tell your stories! She received a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Columbia College Chicago. She also spent a few semesters studying at San Diego State University. While in college, she interviewed Joan Rivers before she passed away, was on the red carpet for the movie premiere of “Chiraq” and also interned with ABC7’s investigative reporters and Bill Kurtis. Tanya spent nearly 2 years reporting in Billings, Montana where she covered a lot of politics and agriculture. In her spare time, Tanya is a sports fanatic, so even though the Chicago Bears and Bulls didn’t know how to win this season, she still roots for them. You can guarantee you’ll run into her at the gym every day. If you do, stop by and say hi! Share your stories with her and don’t be surprised if she’s hiding chocolate chip cookies in her gym bag.