'People's Inauguration' pushes for hate crime legislation

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - “Well, we are all in this together, you know,” Islamic Society of Michiana’s Samantha Musleh said.

Members of Michiana came together to support a common cause.

“Legislation that protects all people not just some people and that includes LGBTQ,” IUSB Civil Rights Heritage Center’s George Garner said. “So the fact that the governor has supported that is really heartening.”

Sunday afternoon, the Michiana Social Justice Coalition held its third annual People's Inauguration.

“In Indiana, we won't tolerate racist hate,” Garner said. “We won't tolerate racist crimes. We need to take a stand against some of the really terrible things that have been happening, not just in our nation but here in our city and here in our state.”

This year's theme was No Hate IN Our State, as local organizations want to work with state legislatures on creating a hate crime bill in Indiana.

“We can't stop hate from happening,” Musleh said. “I mean, we can try our best, but it's always going to happen. But the hate bill will protect those who are being discriminated against.”

Indiana is one of only five states in the country that does not have a hate crime bill.

“When we don't have bias crimes legislation, that sends a signal loud and clear to people who might be in a position to commit hate crimes,” Indivisible Indiana’s Nate Levin-Aspenson said.

Last year alone, hate crimes rose nationwide by 17%.

“It's unacceptable that in our community there's so much crime and there's so many deaths,” Moms Demand Action’s Desmond Harris said. “We put pressure on legislators to create safer communities for all of us.”

Those attending Sunday's event felt it was a step forward in the right direction leaving them feeling motivated.

“I'm just excited to see all of these coalitions who are in support of it and the great work that they are doing to push this law forward,” attendee Elda Navarro said.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has said he supports a hate crime bill.