INDIANAPOLIS--The future of a hate crimes bill in Indiana is uncertain, but the Southern Poverty Law Center says there were 24 hate groups in Indiana in 2018.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is an American nonprofit legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation. That center is known for its successful legal cases against white supremacist groups, its classification of hate groups and other extremist organizations, and for promoting tolerance education programs.
Indiana Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) says these groups contribute to a negative perception of Indiana.
“There is a perception and we need to dispel that perception. I think we have an unfortunate minority of individuals in Indiana and throughout the country who engage in that type of bigotry,” Lanane said.
A hate crimes bill is facing a critical, debate in the Indiana legislature over how and whether it should be rewritten.
Senate Republicans on Tuesday deleted a list of victim groups from the law, instead declaring that judges can consider factors “including bias,” without discussing bias against whom. A final Senate vote could come as early as Thursday.
Opponents of that move say it makes people who were on that list feel as if they don’t exist. The amendments author, Republican Aaron Freeman, argues any list of specific protected classes undermines the principle of treating all citizens equally.
“If someone is attacked based on their race, sexual orientation, or gender, we need to remember these are things that are clearly listed so that judges have an absolute direction when they are considering the animus of a person towards the victim as an aggravating circumstance,” Lanane said.
Lanane doesn’t want to just limit the list to race, sexual orientation, or gender. He says he’s keeping an open mind.
“If somebody can suggest to me categories that are broad enough where it makes sense to include those, we could do that. This is a policy statement we’re making,” Lanane said.
Some of the hate groups listed by the SPLC include several chapters of the Ku Klux Klan, along with several black and white nationalist groups.
You can see the full list of hate groups here.
(PHOTO: Chris Davis/Emmis)