NC lawmakers back hate-crime bill in wake of Atlanta killings

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Asian-American activists say their communities are shaken after reports of hate crimes are on the rise.

Now, some lawmakers are coming together hoping legislation can make a difference.

Even though it's not been deemed a hate crime, many Americans of Southeast Asian descent are still reeling from the deadly attacks in Atlanta.

Some North Carolina senators are standing behind the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This is the third time this bill has been filed. It would expand protections against hate crimes based on ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability and sexual orientation. It would also increase punishments and create a statewide database where agencies can report all alleged hate crimes.

"If we don't report the data, those in power and the public will believe hate crimes are not an issue," said Sen. Mujtaba Mohammed, D-Mecklenburg. "And it becomes much more difficult to tackle a very real problem."

The senators sponsoring this bill said there wouldn't be much cost associated with a database because there's already infrastructure in place. Officers would just need to be trained.

And it would be, they said, no cost compared to the lives lost to hate crimes.
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