Arkansas committee defeats hate-crimes proposal

By Editors

Originally published on February 22 2001 1:00 AM ET

An Arkansas house panel on Tuesday turned back legislation that would have enhanced penalties for crimes motivated by hate—including hatred of gay men and lesbians. The judiciary committee defeated the measure despite impassioned pleas from supporters, including one of the nine African-Americans who endured angry white mobs to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957. “I don’t think it’s a legal issue, and it’s not a moral issue. It’s an issue of public policy,” Rep. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock) said before voting against the measure, along with 10 members of the 20-member panel. “Everyone wants to see...divisions healed. Setting aside classes [of victims], you’re not doing anything to bring us together.”