CHARLOTTE — Polly Sheppard was among five people who survived the 2015 Charleston church shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina. Nine others were killed.
Nearly seven years after the shooting, Sheppard will join the civil rights organization, the National Action Network, at the South Carolina State House on Wednesday in a bid to urge state senators to pass a bill on hate crimes bearing the name of the late Reverend Clementa Pinckney.
Pinckney, also a former senator, was the pastor of Emanuel AME at the time of the shooting, and among the nine people killed by acknowledged white supremacist Dylann Roof.
If passed, anyone convicted under the Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act would face additional punishment, including an additional fine not to exceed $10,000 and additional jail time of up to $10,000. at five years old.
“To be there, lying under the table with this gun to your head could only be hate,” Sheppard said.
“So I wonder why South Carolina has to be the last, almost the last to have a hate crimes law? Because we didn’t have it. We had to go to the feds to get (Dylann Roof) charged with a hate crime. It does not mean anything.”
South Carolina is one of two US states, including Wyoming, that does not have a hate crimes law.
The Hate Crimes Act passed the House but currently sits in the Senate.
“When (the shooting) happened, members of that same Senate stood up and said wonderful things about Clementa Pinckney, the flag was lowered, and the hate crimes bill was introduced shortly after. “, added the Reverend Nelson B. Rivers III, of the National Action Network. “Now, these years later, nothing has happened.”
“I really can’t understand them opposing a law, but they can pass a law to kill someone in a firing squad. They can bring that to the ground, but they can’t bring hate crimes law to the ground,” Sheppard added. “What’s the matter? This is what to do.”
Channel 9 attempted to contact Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey for comment but did not receive a response late Tuesday afternoon.
Massey has previously told reporters that given the way the bill is currently written, it does nothing to protect anyone.
He added that federal hate crimes laws were sufficient to prosecute Dylann Roof.
Significant salary increases
(Watch video below: Judge approves $88 million settlement for families of 9 people killed in Charleston church massacre)
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