Lowcountry Headlines

Lowcountry Headlines


Mount Pleasant passes hate crime ordinances: ‘It’s a momentous night’

Social issues concept

Photo: YiorgosGR / iStock / Getty Images

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - The town of Mount Pleasant is now the fifth municipality in the state of South Carolina to enact harsher penalties for hate crimes.

Following multiple readings and votes, Mount Pleasant Town Council unanimously voted on Wednesday night to enact two different ordinances to address hate crimes.

“This is a momentous night for the town of Mount Pleasant,” Councilman Daniel Brownstein says. “We’ve been hearing from our residents for months about antisemitic flyers and other instances of hate speech.”

“It’s sad that it’s come to this point where we have to do something like this, but I hope it sends a strong message that the town of Mount Pleasant is about inclusivity, and not about hate,” Brownstein adds.

One of the ordinances adds the possibility of fines up to $500 and up to 30 extra days in jail for anyone who commits a crime in the town motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, disabilities or national origin.

The ordinance would allow the courts options to assign community service, counseling or education to suspend the sentence.

“We are happy Mount Pleasant residents who would like to be happier with the elimination of cause for hate, with better treatment for everyone,” Jewish Federation of Charleston Member, Sharon Hox, says.

“I think this will help just relieve that whole level of secrecy,” Hox adds.

A second ordinance prevents handbills and flyers from being left on inhabited private areas without those items being directly handed to the resident. It does not apply to the distribution of mail by USPS.

“It’s a situation where they will be charged with hate and intimidation, and that will stick with them forever on their criminal record,” Brownstein adds. “I hope that serves as a deterrent.”

Penalties for violating the handbill ordinance would also include fines of up to $500 and up to 30 days in jail.

“You have shown that you care about the religious freedom of your citizens,” Mount Pleasant Resident, Dan Freemyer, said to the council.

The passing of the ordinances comes after Mount Pleasant Police investigated hundreds of antisemitic flyers that were distributed in seven neighborhoods around the city in October.

Also, after antisemitic postcards were delivered to two Mount Pleasant Town Councilmember’s home addresses back in December.

Brownstein was one of the councilmembers targeted and says the postcards gave the opposite reaction as to what the sender intended.

“It’s very creepy; it makes you sort of second guess your surroundings,” Brownstein says. “I think, in a way, it was a positive thing that that some of us received those postcards, and that allows us to walk in the shoes of others who are experiencing this sort of hate.”

Hox has visited a concentration camp in Germany, and shared her experience with the town council, comparing it to hate she has occurred in Mount Pleasant.

“I mentioned having visited a concentration camp in Germany, and what that kind of hate led to in a whole country. Germany has come a long way. Mount Pleasant doesn’t have that far to go, thank goodness, we can get there,” Hox says.

South Carolina remains one of two states without a hate crime law on the books.

A hate crime bill has been introduced at the state level several times over the years.

“Until we really have a statewide law to address it, it unfortunately will push the problem to another community which will unfortunately be in our position very shortly,” Brownstein says.

“I say to those senate members, get your act together. This is way past time to recognize that there’s no place for hate,” Hox says. “Interpersonal hate is just the lowest form. Let’s clear that air and work on more important issues.”

Copyright 2024 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content