Indiana governor calls for hate-crime legislation after synagogue vandalized

Indiana governor calls for hate-crime legislation after synagogue vandalized
© Facebook: Debby Barton Grant

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) called on Monday for hate-crime legislation in the state after a synagogue was vandalized with anti-Semitic and Nazi graffiti over the weekend.

Congregation Shaarey Tefilla in Carmel was spray-painted with images of a large Nazi flag and Nazi Iron Crosses were found on the building’s shed, according to the Indy Star.

 

Hate-crime legislation has moved through the past three legislative sessions unsuccessfully, typically being held up over proposed protections against LGBTQ hate crimes, the Indy Star reported.

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Conservatives have pushed back against the protections, arguing that it could hurt freedom of speech.

In 2016, state Rep. Tom Washburne (R) shut down a bias crimes bill that passed through the state Senate.

"To me, it's very difficult to say something is more or less a crime based on somebody's motivation," Washburne said at the time.

"So when you separate it and you try to create a special crime for it, what you're saying is that if somebody's on a street corner and they get beat up because somebody hates tall people and they happen to not be in any protected status, that's less of a crime than if they beat you up because of your national origin,” he continued.

State senators have been unable to agree on language for a bill in the 2018 session.

Holcomb said Sunday that he contacted the Indiana State Police Superintendent to assist the Carmel Police Department and the FBI in “bringing those behind the repulsive acts of description at the Congregation Shaarey Tefilla to justice.”

He called the culprits “cowards” on Twitter.

“The cowards responsible for these crimes always hide from public scrutiny precisely because they know their actions will be soundly rejected by their neighbors and are not consistent with who we are as a society,” the governor wrote.

A recent report from the Anti-Defamation League found that, in 2017, anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. including harassment, vandalism and assault, increased by 57 percent from the previous year.