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Southern Christian Leadership Conference renews call for enactment of federal hate crimes legislation




 September 22, 2009


SCLC Calls for Passage of Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act As Corporate Partner Cracker Barrel Cooperates with Authorities to Bring Justice to Tasha Hill



Atlanta, GA – The Southern Christian Leadership Conference today renewed its call for the enactment of federal hate crimes legislation to provide comprehensive protection to the victims of hate crimes. The call comes following the recent beating of an African-American woman by Troy Dale West, Jr. at Morrow, Georgia Cracker Barrel Restaurant. The attack occurred in front of the woman's 7 year old daughter and included the use of several racial epithets.
“The reprehensible action is yet another clear example of why the State of Georgia and the nation needs to enact comprehensive hate crimes legislation. This type of behavior is indicative of an undercurrent of hatred that exists in the country by a small fringe element, but manifests itself in various avenues of life including the harmful rhetoric we are witnessing in the current healthcare debate. America has undergone a tremendous transformation in the area of race relations, but unfortunately there are those among us who do not subscribe to the idea that all Americans are created equal. This attack may have occurred at a Cracker Barrel restaurant but it is certainly not a reflection of the incredible work Cracker Barrel has done over the past decade to promote diversity and inclusion,” stated Dexter M. Wimbish, SCLC General Counsel.
The Matthew Shepard Act (formerly known as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007) expands the law that authorizes the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute certain bias-motivated crimes. These crimes are committed when the perpetrator of the crime intentionally selects the victim because of who the victim is whether it's the victim's race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
On September 18, 2009 Cracker Barrel released a statement indicating that it had twice offered to meet with community members in a private setting and that it would continue to cooperate with authorities on all levels of government to bring about justice. The company has provided the authorities with the surveillance video and working to ensure the integrity of the investigation and the legal process.
“Americans have reported more than 100,000 hate crimes to the FBI since 1991 with over 50% of the violent crimes based on race related bias. The primary goal of SCLC in this matter is to have legislation passed that will protect American citizens. While it is important for the public to see the video in order to understand that such incidents still take place, it's more critical that we do nothing that others will try to use as a legal defense such as claiming the jury pool has been tainted due to the widespread release of the tape before authorities can build a case against the perpetrator. We will continue to work with Cracker Barrel to ensure that justice is done,” continued Wimbish.

Contact: K. Renee Richardson
  K. Renee & Co.
  Phone: (404) 838-5970
  Dexter Wimbish, Esq.
  Phone: (770) 861-7054

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