Georgia teen not charged with hate crime in alleged black church plot
A white teen who allegedly plotted to attack a historically black church in Georgia faces a charge of criminal attempt to commit murder, but she’s not charged with a hate crime because the state does not have such a law.
The 16-year-old, a high school student in Gainesville, had allegedly planned the attack on the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church for several weeks, police said. She researched black places of worship online and visited the church this month, but no one was there at the time.
“She is a racist,” Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish said, adding he wouldn’t make the statement without substantial evidence.
While police have not released much detail on the alleged plot, Bishop Reginald Jackson of the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church told local media he hoped the teenager would be tried as an adult, and denounced the absence of hate crimes laws in Georgia.
“It ought to bother us in the state of Georgia, this young girl, this young woman cannot be charged with a hate crime,” he said. “She cannot be charged with a hate crime because Georgia does not have a hate crimes law.”
Georgia is one of four states, including Arkansas, Wyoming and South Carolina, that do not have hate crimes laws. But even without the laws, such states can report hate crimes to the FBI, the Justice Department said.
The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, made up of 65 state representatives and senate members, said Thursday it plans to push for a hate crime bill.
“Now more than ever we need to end the incivility of hatred and further advance the process of becoming ‘one nation, under God, indivisible,'” the GLBC said in a statement.