SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Support for a slain soldier spilled into a gallery at the Civil Rights Heritage Center on Thursday.. Panelists probed the need for hate crime legislation in Indiana in the wake of Jodie Henderson's killing-- and other tragedies rocking the U.S. Henderson was found beaten to death on January 16. According to court documents, Henderson's alleged killer, Jabreeh Cash Davis-Martin told an informant that he killed the man because Henderson had made a "gay move on him."
"He had to come back from Afghanistan and get killed on his own soil? That is wrong!" exclaimed Patricia Forrest, Henderson's mother. "I want y'all to fight to pass this hate crime."
Indiana is one of five states without a hate crime law. The Hoosier State and Michigan recognize sexual orientation when collecting data about hate crimes.
"How many people need to die before society takes this seriously? How many people need to die?" trailed off Eli Williams, executive director of the LGBTQ Center in South Bend.
Henderson's twin, Lucylu Benton, echoed Williams: "If South Bend don't stand up and neighboring counties don't, Indiana is not going to take this law seriously at all."
South Bend Common Council member Oliver Davis said the council plans to write a resolution encouraging state legislators to enact a hate crime law.
"From the one seed of Jodie, we can now move forward and having our city warm and not die from the cold within the state, not die from the cold within," said Davis.
Making the trip from New York, Jodie Henderson, Sr., said Indiana should follow the trail of the Empire State and 44 others (including Washington).
"This isn't only for Jodie, my son. This is for all people who's coming up, trying to stop this from happening again," said Henderson, Sr.
Benton, Henderson's twin, established an online petition, asking Gov. Mike Pence to support the passage of a hate crime law.