VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - After a Carmel, Indiana synagogue was vandalized with prejudice graffiti, many are wondering what could happen next.
"As a woman of color, a woman of religion and faith," said Selena Cannady, "You're wondering, you know, am I next?"
"What has to happen before we as a state say ok enough? We need to make sure the laws are tight enough?" asked Valerie Hart-Craig.
Cannady, Hart-Craig and Bonnie Wilson make up part of the Social Justice League in Terre Haute. The group meets often at Central Christian Church.
"One thing that the Social Justice League tries to do is build bridges," said Wilson, "and the way you do that is you talk to people. It's really hard to hate someone when you're sitting down with a cup of coffee and having a conversation about baseball, movies or books."
Following the recent incident in Carmel, it's prompted the conversation about hate crime laws in Indiana.
Indiana is one out of five states that currently does not have a hate crimes law established.
"If a majority of the country is moving forward, the real question is why are we not following suit?" asked Cannady.
"It's embarrassing is what it is because I'm sure that we have hate crimes in this state, positive beyond the shadow of a doubt," said Hart-Craig, "So one would have to think exactly who are we protecting by not enacting those laws by this point?"
Governor Eric Holcomb recently announced his push for hate crimes legislation following the synagogue's vandalism.
He issued a statement showing his support for a law in the next legislative session. He went on to say he plans to meet with lawmakers, legal minds, corporate leaders, and citizens to find a consensus on the issue so the state can move forward.
At the time this story first aired, at 10 p.m. Eastern, our Twitter poll showed a majority of you agreed a hate crimes law is needed in Indiana.
"I am really, really thrilled to know that the governor of this state is saying it's time to make this right. So that makes me very happy although I'm kind of worried he's going to have an uphill battle," said Hart-Craig, "We've talked about this hate crime legislation since I've been in the NAACP, and that's been years. My son is 20, so 20 years we've had this conversation. So I'm just hopeful there are enough people in the right places who support our governor in this matter, in this legislation."
The group said they're hopeful following Governor Holcomb's words, and they agree it's time to move forward, as well as continue conversations.
"I hear all the issues about verbiage because it's all about pieces and parts," said Hart-Craig, "We'll take this piece out, add that part. No, get over that. We need to protect our people in this country. I mean, the time is now."
"It is necessary," said Cannady, "and it's not just something made up in our minds, but it is something that we need to do in order to protect the ones that we love, to protect our friends, and our family, our co-workers."
"This issue is going to touch you in some way," said Wilson, "Whether it's your kids, your grandkids, your neighbor, relatives. It's going to happen, and you better be prepared for it and have those discussions about white privilege and why certain people need this hate crime law."
"I keep hearing in my head, eventually chickens come home to roost," added Hart-Craig, "So you can try to avoid these conversations, but you never know. It could be your grandchild who has decided that I identify as queer. Now your child, that grandchild, is now part of this protected class that we're talking about. You never know if your child is going to marry interracial, and now that biracial child is now in my world. So you can attempt to avoid it, but I would say why don't we start having these conversations now to avoid that for your children coming up."
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