Editor's note: This letter was received Feb. 19, 2019, before SB 12 moved out of committee to be considered by the full Senate. The Daily News publishes Letters to the Editor with minimal copy edits and provides a headline only if the author does not provide one. We reserve the right to withhold submitted letters depending on the content. Letters should be approximately 500 words and sent to editor@bsudailynews.com.

Hates crimes are on the rise across the country, and that is being felt right here in Indiana. An FBI report released in 2017 states that hate crimes rose 17 percent compared to the prior year.

Last year hate crimes seemed to be more frequent in the news. Not only did we see anti-semitic graffiti on a Caramel synagogue, but we witnessed the horror of a mass shooting in Philadelphia targeting a Jewish community.

55 hate crimes were reported in 2017 in Indiana, with Indiana as one of five states without a hate crimes law.

In the past, a bill of this sort has not even made it out of committee. However, Republican Governor Holcomb is now behind the legislation stating, “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 one of 46 states with hate crimes legislation — and not one of five states without it.”

Ball State College Democrats is calling upon the Indiana General Assembly to pass an inclusive and specific hate crimes bill that would allow judges to enhance criminal sentences when the crime is motivated by bias toward a victim’s characteristics which includes race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sex, disability, gender identity and sexual orientation. This would serve as a deterrent to these crimes, and would prevent many from occurring.

Hoosiers deserve to feel safe and protected no matter who they are or who they love.

So, Indiana General Assembly, we urge you to move Indiana into the 21st century and pass this legislation.

- 2019 Ball State College Democrats Executive Board