Should the disabled be protected by Mississippi's hate crime law - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Should the disabled be protected by Mississippi's hate crime law?

Posted: Updated:
Austin Stokes and Le Ann Rasmussen with the group "Mississippi Citizens for Austin's Law" are advocating that state lawmakers amend Mississippi's hate crime law to include those with disabilities as a protected group. Austin Stokes and Le Ann Rasmussen with the group "Mississippi Citizens for Austin's Law" are advocating that state lawmakers amend Mississippi's hate crime law to include those with disabilities as a protected group.
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

There's a push in Mississippi to amend our state's hate crime law to include those with disabilities as a protected group.

Le Ann Rasmussen with the group "Mississippi Citizens for Austin's Law" said Mississippi is one of 20 states with a hate crime law that does not include protection for people with disabilities.

"I think the legislature should send a message saying if you attack someone with a disability, your sentenced will be enhanced," Rasmussen told WLOX News's David Elliot on Monday's Four O'Clock Show.

"Austin's Law" is, of course, named after Austin Stokes: the disabled George County teen who was punched in the face by another student in October 2012. The act of violence was legally considered just simple assault. But the attack sparked outrage from many in the community who said at the time more should be done to punish those who attack our most vulnerable citizens.

The coalition is currently working to raise awareness about their cause, and looking for legislative support.

"We're circulating petitions all over the state. We have a Facebook page. We are planning several events to help spread the word and raise awareness," Rasmussen said. "We're also looking for a legislative sponsor. We need someone to propose the bill on our behalf."

Austin Stokes joined Rasmussen in the WLOX News Studio to talk about the proposal. He's doing well, but said because of the incident in George County, he is now attending school at East Central.

To learn more about Mississippi Citizens for Austin's Law, visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MississippiCitizensForAustinsLaw

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Coroner: Girl's body was found in abandoned trailer's bathroom

    Coroner: Girl's body was found in abandoned trailer's bathroom

    Friday, July 18 2014 3:26 PM EDT2014-07-18 19:26:33 GMT
    It's been an extremely difficult day for family and friends as well as officers. So many people were crying, upset as the body of 5-year-old Janaya Thompson was removed from an abandoned trailer.More >>
    It's been an extremely difficult day for family and friends as well as officers. So many people were crying, upset as the body of 5-year-old Janaya Thompson was removed from an abandoned trailer. Coroner Gary Hargrove said Janaya's body was found in a bathroom.More >>
  • Parents on high alert after attempted kidnapping in Bayou View

    Parents on high alert after attempted kidnapping in Bayou View

    Monday, July 21 2014 11:29 PM EDT2014-07-22 03:29:59 GMT
    Parents in the Bayou View Community of Gulfport are on high alert, after a reported attempted kidnapping of a 13-year-old girl from her home.More >>
    Parents in the Bayou View Community of Gulfport are on high alert, after a reported attempted kidnapping of a 13-year-old girl from her home.More >>
  • No hotel deal means Margaritaville Biloxi will close

    No hotel deal means Margaritaville Biloxi will close

    Monday, July 21 2014 10:00 PM EDT2014-07-22 02:00:03 GMT
    The Board of Directors of Margaritaville Casino said they have been unable to put together a deal to build a hotel, and that means Margaritaville can't compete in the Biloxi market.
    More >>
    The Board of Directors of Margaritaville Casino said they have been unable to put together a deal to build a hotel, and that means Margaritaville can't compete in the Biloxi market. As of today, the casino is planning to close its doors by September 19.More >>
Powered by WorldNow

208 DeBuys Road
Biloxi, MS 39531
(228) 896-1313

FCC Public File
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WLOX. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.