PORTSMOUTH, Va.(WAVY) — Monday marks the two-year anniversary of the deadly white nationalism rally in Charlottesville, and state leaders are calling on the continued efforts to fight racism.
James Fields, who was attending the rally in 2017, plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. He injured dozens and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
A judge sentenced him to life in prison earlier this summer. He had been charged with 30 counts for hate crimes.
In response to the rise of racial violence, representatives introduced a bill named in part for Heyer, called the Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer No Hate Act.
Like Heyer, Khalid Jabara was a hate crime victim.
In 2016, his neighbor shot and killed him in Tulsa, Oklahoma because he was of Arab descent.
According to Senator Mark Warner’s office, the No Hate Act hopes to make it easier to report hate crimes through the FBI’s National Incident Based Reporting System and help law enforcement agencies train to not only use it, but also how to identify hate crimes.
The bill would help establish hate crime units for agencies that do not have them and promote community relations within the jurisdiction, according to press release sent from Warner’s office.
A national hate crime hotline would be established, as well as allowing judges to require hate crime offenders to conduct community service or education centered on communities they target.
In a statement on the second anniversary of the deadly rally, Senator Tim Kaine says that he and Warner introduced the bill to improve reporting and help victims.
“Two years ago, neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched in Charlottesville to spread bigotry and hatred. Their violent rally injured peaceful protestors, killed Heather Heyer, and led to the deaths of state troopers Jay Cullen and Berke Bates. My heart is with the victims, their families, and our community as we remember this tragedy. Unfortunately, in the time since, we’ve seen many instances demonstrating that white nationalism continues to be a real threat to our country. When we have a President who emboldens white supremacists, we have to take action to ensure hate has no place in our communities.Sen. Tim Kaine
“Senator Warner and I have introduced the Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer NO HATE Act to improve hate crimes reporting and support victims of hate crimes. There are some who say it’s not that big of a problem, but when you come face to face with violent racism, you can’t downplay the threat. We have to confront it. I’m proud of how so many Virginians have stood up against racism these past two years, and I’ll continue to fight for a more inclusive Commonwealth.”
The bill was introduced in June has been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.