RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. – A sheriff in South Carolina has urged the state to adopt some form of hate crime law after having trouble charging a teen who made disturbing video threats about shooting black people.
South Carolina, Georgia, Wyoming and Arkansas are the only states in the US without official hate crime laws.
And that’s a problem, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said.
The lack of this type of law recently made it difficult for the South Carolina sheriff’s deputies to charge a local teen when they were alerted to homemade videos that threatened the lives of African Americans.
“It’s an absolute shame this state does not have a law against hate crimes,” Sheriff Leon Lott said. “Our legislators have got to take some action. Look at the turmoil these videos have created in the community.”
According to a report from AP News, a 16-year-old Catholic school student made violent videos where he used racial slurs and shot a box that he said represented black people.
Unable to do anything about it, the deputies had to wait until a greater threat – one that’s punishable by law – to arise.
That happened just four days later, when a third video of that very same teen surfaced. That video allegedly showed him threatening to shoot people at the Cardinal Newman School in Columbia, Lott said.
Two SC Senate Dems are out front on combatting hate crimes and targeted violence in SC. The proposed bills come in the wake of mass shootings in OH and TX, and the video which circulated of a student making racist threats here in Richland County.https://t.co/9NB3MNfdfr
— Meghan Durant (@meghanedurant) August 8, 2019
The student’s identity has not been released due to the fact that he’s a minor.
Following his arrest, law enforcement officials seized 20 firearms from the residence.
Deputies said that the original video, which was made back in May, was circulated via text message by a number of students at the private school, which boasts a $1,000/month tuition.
SC is 1 of 4 states w.out a hate crime law. So Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott couldn’t charge a 16-year-old for a video using racial slurs & shooting at a box he said represented black men. The teen only was arrested after threatening a school shooting https://t.co/lq4Mj6z1h0
— Jeffrey Collins (@JSCollinsAP) August 8, 2019
Investigators were ‘disgusted’ by the videos, which reportedly showed the teen using at least two different guns to fire more than two dozen rounds into a box that he says represents all black men.
Deputies say he used a racial slur several times in the videos and says black people “are stinky and they just suck.”
Now ordinarily, a youthful offender would be released back into the custody of their parents. But this case is different, Sheriff Lott said.
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Lott said the investigators in the case have decided to hold the teen in a jail facility while they continue to investigate the severity of his threats.
While there is no state hate crime law, there is a federal one. Donald Wood, the FBI Supervisory Special Agent in South Carolina, said federal agents are assisting with the investigation into the videos.
AP News reported that local parents were upset that other students had seen the violent videos and had not done anything to report them. The school met with the student’s parents to inform them that he was to be expelled, despite their attempt to withdraw him first. The expulsion will remain on his permanent record, officials said.
During a Thursday news conference, #Richland County Sheriff Lott says they are investigating whether or not the Cardinal Newman student who made racist videos visited right wing hate sites online.
— The State Newspaper (@thestate) August 8, 2019
Principal Rob Loia said the school is investigating the videos, which he referred to as “evil, disgusting and wrong.”
AP’s report said that a hate crime bill was introduced earlier this year to create a bias statute in South Carolina, which would carry two to 15 years in prison if someone assaulted, intimidated or threatened someone because of their race, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation or homelessness.