City of Beaufort Passes Historic Hate Crime Ordinance

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hate crime ordinanceThe City of Beaufort has joined a growing number of municipalities in South Carolina by passing a hate crime ordinance. The Beaufort City Council gave its final approval on Tuesday, officially enacting the local law.

The new ordinance defines “hate intimidation” as the intent to intimidate an individual or group based on their actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical disability, mental disability, or national origin.

Under the ordinance, a hate crime is charged as a secondary offense in addition to the primary crime. Violators will face a misdemeanor charge, a fine of up to $500, and possibly restitution to the victim. These penalties are in addition to those for the primary offense.

South Carolina is currently one of only two states, along with Wyoming, without a statewide hate crime law. Despite passing the House of Representatives, efforts to enact such a law have stalled in the state Senate over the past two legislative sessions.

Beaufort is now the 13th municipality in South Carolina to pass a hate crime ordinance and one of several in the Lowcountry to take this step.

The move reflects a broader push within the state to address hate crimes at the local level amid state-level legislative challenges.

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