Marion Co. prosecutor: A hate crime law would improve safety

INDIANAPOLIS -- After new FBI statistics show an increase in hate crimes in Indiana, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry called for a hate crime law in the state.

FBI statistics show there were 78 hate crimes reported in Indiana in 2016, the second straight year of hate crime increases. Curry said the actual number is higher, since not all hate crimes are reported to law enforcement.  

Indiana is one of five states without a hate crime law. The others are Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas and Wyoming.

"Having [a hate crime law] in our statute would allow prosecutors to seek higher penalties for hate-motivated criminal acts which have a greater effect on the safety and well-being of the public at large," Curry said in a statement."

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Curry pushed back against common criticism that a hate crime law would police thought or speech. 

"In reality, a hate crime must first involve an underlying criminal act which can be prosecuted," Curry said. "For example, the underlying criminal act would be battery or intimidation. Further, the suspect of the crime must be shown to have specifically targeted an individual or group because of an actual or perceived characteristic such as race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation."

A bill that would've introduced a hate crime law in Indiana died in the legislature on the same day that the Indianapolis Jewish Community Center received a bomb threat.

Watch a press conference held Tuesday below with several members of the community telling their stories about why this law is needed:

MORE COVERAGE | Transgender woman calls for hate crime law after message written outside her home | The History of Hate in Indiana: How the Ku Klux Klan took over Indiana's halls of power | State senator proposing new hate crime law

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