Ky. senators push to pass hate crime law extending penalties for offenders
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WAVE) - Supporters hope 2022 will be the year that the Kentucky legislature passes a new law adding penalties and making hate crimes easier to prosecute. Similar attempts have stalled in the state legislature.
Efforts began after the racially-motivated killing of two Black shoppers at the Jeffersontown Kroger in 2018.
Gregory Bush was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of Maurice Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones. He was also convicted of a federal hate crime.
Prosecutors expressed frustration that state laws were inadequate to do the same in Kentucky courts.
“We didn’t have the means to hold him accountable in Kentucky because we didn’t have this law on our books,” senator Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville) said at a Tuesday press conference. “We’ve seen this, whether it’s the painting of a swastika on the side of a synagogue or the cold-blooded gunning down of two people in a Kroger in Louisville. It’s something that needs to stop.”
Family members of the both the Kroger victims were present when McGarvey and senator Gerald Neal (D-Louisville) reignited their push to pass a state hate crime law.
The proposed law would extend prison times for crimes targeting people for their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disabilities.
“It’s important that you call it out and name it for what it is,” Kellie Stallard Watson, daughter of Maurice Stallard, said. “For us to have appropriate justice, for the community to have appropriate justice, for us as victims of the family to have appropriate justice.”
“This is not just a crime against an individual, it’s a crime against an entire community,” McGarvey said. “It is wrong and we have to send a signal that it is wrong.”
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