Fayetteville pushes for state action surrounding hate crime laws

KNWA

"I feel like we should be a leader. We should not be at the back of the pack."

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas is one of only a few states without a hate crime law, but the City of Fayetteville is hoping to change that.

Unfortunately, Arkansas is often in last place.

TERESA TURK, FAYETTEVILLE CITY COUNCIL MEMBER

The City of Fayetteville passed a hate crime ordinance allowing prosecutors to present evidence showing these crimes were hate-based which could potentially lead to harsher penalities.

We’ve had some recent incidents here in Fayetteville, a lot of graffiti that’s been written.

TERESA TURK, FAYETTEVILLE CITY COUNCIL MEMBER

In September, a mural on Martin Luther King Blvd. was vandalized with hate speech.

It’s since been repainted, but it pushed the need for Fayetteville City Council Member Teresa Turk to take action.

“Fayetteville prides itself on being a very welcoming and inclusive community and so we just need to cut this kind of behavior out,” she said.

According to Turk, the action is very modest due to state law.

This is only for misdemeanors. It’s not for felonies.

TERESA TURK, FAYETTEVILLE CITY COUNCIL MEMBER

Arkansas is one of only three states without a hate crime law, but Senator Jim Hendren is trying to change that.

He’s co-author of a state hate crime bill Arkansas lawmakers will consider when the new legislative session begins in 2021.

“This simply enhances penalties when people commit criminal acts because of hate,” he said.

He hopes they will lead by the council’s example.

“We are too good of a state to be painted with a brush that says we tolerate hate,” he said.

Turk wants the same.

We can only do so much locally.

TERESA TURK, FAYETTEVILLE CITY COUNCIL MEMBER

Click here to read the full ordinance.

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