Hate Crime Bill to be Reintroduced in SC in Wake of Anti-Gay Attack

Following the attack last week on gay teen Joshua Esskew in Rock Hill, South Carolina, a legislator has said he will reintroduce hate crimes legislation, the Herald Online reports:

King However, two key area Republican legislators said Tuesday that while the crime against Joshua Esskew at the Spot convenience store in Rock Hill is "horrific," existing laws are enough to prosecute people who violently attack others – regardless of who the victim is or the motives of the attackers.

And a spokesman for Gov. Nikki Haley said Tuesday the newly elected governor does not support state hate crime laws, either.

Still, state Rep. John King (pictured), D-Rock Hill, the bill's sponsor, said he will ask that the bill be taken directly to the House floor Tuesday when the Legislature reconvenes after a week off.

Hate crimes should not be tolerated and deserve harsher punishments, he said.

The Herald Online also posted a video of Esskew discussing life since the attack. Esskew says he's no hero.

The attack has prompted at least one warning from a local professor, telling students to "act straight" when they go out in the area.

The attack has angered many in the community, including professors and student advisors at Winthrop University.

"I've got to let my students know [about the attack], so when they're out and about in Rock Hill they act straight," said Kelly James who teaches sociology and criminology at Winthrop University.

James is also the advisor for GLoBAL, Winthrop University's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender ally league.  She says the attack has her worried about students' safety in Rock Hill and she welcomes the federal involvement in the investigation.


  1. Wes says

    “I’ve got to let my students know [about the attack], so when they’re out and about in Rock Hill they act straight”

    This is a perfect explanation of why hate crimes exist. It is a threat, a crime, against an ENTIRE community. It is more than just an act of violence against an individual, its an act of intimidation against a specific, targeted demographic.

  2. Rob says

    I see, so, in order to protect the sensibilities of South Carolina’s Repuggie politicians, the GLBT community or, in this instance, the “victim” of this crime, is who needs to change how they act in public but not the ones who attack them. Well, this makes perfect sense for homophobes. Protect the attacker – not the victim. More stupidity from right wing haters.

  3. Derrick from Philly says

    “Protect the attacker – not the victim. More stupidity from right wing haters”

    Actually, Rob, the professor who told her students “to act straight” probably thought she was protecting them. She’s probably a “liberal” by South Carolina standards.

    What will be interesting IS how Carolina’s Right-Wing White Conservatives handle this horrible event. On one hand they believe that the Black male attackers are simply behaving the way they warned you “Integrationists” they would behave if you stopped treating them with a “firm hand.” But on the other hand Carolina White Bigots aren’t crazy about Gay people who “flaunt” their gender non-conformity. So, who is a Dixiecrat to side with? THe n-word savages or the f-word degenerates?

    Finally watching the video (for the first time) it was awful to view. But I know those attackers would come after me (when I was 19) even more quickly than they went after Mister Esskew. The bottles would have started flying before any F-words were ever hurled at me. THey would have attacked at the very sight of “non-gender role confoming” me.

    Daniel Patrick Moynihan predicted this 50 years ago. He said that there would be an angry, bitter, hopeless underclass of young Black folks in this country if things didn’t change. As long as that anger was exploding within Black communities no one cared. It had/has to affect the larger society (White America) for anyone to care. Well, since the 1970s it has. Whatchu’ gonna’ do? Build more prisons? Well, that costs more tax dollars, Right-Wing America.

    THere will be a forceful effort to find the attackers of Mister Esskew, and I am glad of that…but I don’t like the REASON WHY his victimization will get this justified attention in South Carolina.

  4. Francis says

    That line comes off as discriminatory, but the bottom line is, we’ve all seen the stats. Suicides, hate crimes, anti-gay activity, all higher in largely conservative areas. South Carolina is largely conservative. It’s sad, but it’s also a fact of reality that if you are gay in South Carolina, you have to be careful because things like this can and will happen, and since there isn’t a state hate crime law there isn’t *as* much protection.

    Derrick, you are 100% on the money in everything you have said. In reading most of the comments, it seems the South Carolina citizens are more or less making it a racial hate crime, and calling the black community animals, but not really actually supporting Mr. Esskew, just making the issue something it isn’t. These men did not attack Josh solely because he’s white or even solely because he’s gay. They attacked him because they looked at a white, self-described effeminate, sort of scrawny and nerdy looking kid, and thought they could f**k with him. That’s what this is about. What needs to be addressed is why are these individuals so violent. As Derrick put it, the issue has not been addressed until it’s affected greater society. Now everyone is up in arms and behaving in a racist manner. It’s up to everyone to calm down, think rationally, and find solutions.

  5. JB - Winthrop Alum says

    I am a former student of Dr. James’ and I have to come to her defense. When I first saw the story I knew something was up because she would never make such a statement. It has come out today that the reporter edited her interview in a way that was not true to what she was trying to convey. The station (WBTV) has published an Editor’s Note and is now airing the entire interview. While SC has a long way to go in the fight for equal rights (and that is even an understatement), Dr. James has been and continues to be a beacon of hope and the best advocate any one could ask for in our community. I love and respect her and am so appreciative to know her.

    The update and explanation of what she said is found by following the link below:

Leave A Reply