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IN Governor supports hate crimes law, #JusticeforJodie supporters react

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Governor Eric Holcomb went public on Monday with his support for a state hate crimes law.

The governor’s office said the anti-semitic graffiti found at a Carmel synagogue brings the issue into the spotlight again.

Governor Holcomb’s full statement reads:

“No law can stop evil, but we should be clear that our state stands with the victims and their voices will not be silenced. For that reason it is my intent that we get something done this next legislative session, so Indiana can be 1 of 46 states with hate crimes legislation – and not 1 of 5 without it. I’ll be meeting with lawmakers, legal minds, corporate leaders, and citizens of all stripes who are seeking to find consensus on this issue so that, once and for all, we can move forward as a state.”

However, in South Bend, supporters of Jodie Henderson said with the Governor’s support they hope change will come.

“A young, black, gay veteran was murdered here in South Bend,” said Darryl Heller, director of the IUSB Civil Rights Heritage Center.

On January 16, 2016, Henderson was found dead on Sorin Street. The army veteran had been badly beaten and left to die in the cold.

“The first murder of the year,” Heller said.

In 2017, his killer was sentenced to 65 years in prison for Henderson’s murder. Supporters of #JusticeforJodie and his mother Patricia Forrest believe the murder was a hate crime, which is not recognized in Indiana.

“She wanted to turn what was a tragedy into something positive,” Heller said. “And to use Jodie’s murder not as something to be mourned in this ongoing way but to turn it into something that could be used to protect other people.”

Mayor Pete Buttigieg said he supports the Governor’s actions but said it’s “embarassing to be in one of the few states that doesn’t have a hate crimes law.” Last year, Mayor Buttigieg spoke out about the lack of hate crime laws during the Henderson trial.

He said the laws may not prevent every crime, but it sends a moral message. Experts said the laws would discourage crimes based on race, religion, gender, or in the case of Jodie Henderson, sexual orientation.

“If it brings some level of comfort to his family, if it brings some measure of justice to his memory, then it is fitting for us to act in his name even knowing that there are countless others,” Buttigieg said.

In 2017, Indiana law enforcement reported 78 cases of hate crimes. Buttigieg said the governor’s support could be a game changer, after countless attempts that have been made to pass the laws.

“But only if legislators, republicans and democrats recognize that this is the right thing to do, come together, and act as so many other states in America have to send this moral message through the laws we have in our state,” he said.

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