GREENVILLE, N.C.(WNCT) – Last week, 9OYS reported on the efforts of some city leaders working to pass a hate crime resolution in Greenville.
While a resolution simply states a city’s position on an issue, Greenville police Chief Mark Holtzman wants to change not the just the way hate crimes are handled in Greenville but across the state as well.
In North Carolina, ethnic intimidation, which is a misdemeanor, is the closest thing the state has to a hate crime law.
Community activist Jermaine McNair, who was born and raised in North Carolina, said the lack of a hate crime law does not surprise him.
“There’s no mystery that a lot of changes need to be made in North Carolina,” McNair said. “The question is who’s willing to step up, sacrifice themselves, do the work, to bring those changes in a positive way and in a constructive way.”
Holtzman may be that person. He wants to expand North Carolina’s ethnic intimidation law to include sexual orientation and socio- economic status, as well as make the crime a felony.
“We took the best of the best from around the country that we could find to put in this law,” Holtzman said.
Holtzman said the community inspired him to advocate for the bill.
“This became a community discussion back when we had the assault case that took place downtown,” said Holtzman. “It spilled over on to the campus. That started the conversation, and from those public discussions that we had you know something came out of it. This is what we brought out of that public discussion.”
“The fact that he’s going to take that a step further and push to bring about change, I mean that’s just amazing,” said McNair.