USC has signed the Chamber of Commerce’s effort to pass hate crime legislation in South Carolina.
South Carolina is one of three states in the nation without a state hate crime law. The other states include Arkansas and Wyoming.
Other businesses that signed the petition include Colonial Life, American Airlines, Dominion Energy, Prisma Health and Medical University of South Carolina.
The bill H.3620 was introduced in August 2020 after Georgia passed an anti-hate crime law in July 2020. H.3620 is currently in the stage of “Pass House Full Committee,” meaning the bill has to go through the House floor, the Senate committees and the Senate floor before it can be signed into law.
According to the PassHateCrimesSC website, the bill creates an "enhanced penalty from crimes of violence, harassment, stalking or malicious injury to property that are intentionally committed against the victim because of the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability."
Currently, it is illegal in South Carolina to conspire to deprive a person of civil rights, cross burning, injuring a place of worship or arson, including against a place of worship.
Jeff Stensland, the university spokesperson, said in an email USC applauds the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce's efforts to build a group of businesses to advocate for hate crime legislation in South Carolina.
"Our university campuses celebrate diversity and we seek to create a culture where everyone feels welcome and included," Stensland said in the email. "Having comprehensive hate crimes legislation would send a strong message that we, as a state, are united against targeted violence and bigotry."