CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina State Representatives are pushing a new bill that would increase the punishment for committing a hate crime.
Not only would House Bill 312 increase the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony, but it would also require law enforcement to track hate crime data and be transparent with that information.
Across the country, hate crimes are at an all time high.
A map from The Southern Poverty Law Center shows in 2018 there were 1,020 hate groups across the country. The majority found in the Carolinas were race-based groups.
LaWana Mayfield spoke out Friday during a press conference announcing the bill,
"There is an all out attack and assault on anyone that loves, serves, and believes differently," Mayfield said.
Other local leaders, including state and house representatives addressed the media Friday.
District 9 State House Representative Nasif Majeed is presenting the bill to lawmakers.
"This is not a Republican or Democrat issue," Majeed said. "This is a human issue."
The press conference came was planned ahead of time, but came at an unfortunately appropriate time. In New Zealand, 49 people were gunned down during Friday morning prayers at two mosques.
"We reach across oceans to hold fast to them and use our voice here to speak out against hate," Rabbi Emerita at Temple Beth El, Judy Schindler said.
NC State Senator Mujtaba Mohammed added that local mosques have increased their security to ensure the safety of the local community.
"Thankfully we haven't had an issue like what they had in New Zealand this morning here, but we want to keep it that way," Mohammed said.