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>>

  • Ocean Springs man's outlook inspires those around him

    Ocean Springs man's outlook inspires those around him

    Sunday, April 20 2014 2:38 PM EDT2014-04-20 18:38:59 GMT
    June 4, 2008 Steven Lowery dove into a local river, broke his neck, and was left paralyzed. Many would have become depressed and withdrawn. But Steven's remarkable outlook on life is inspiring others.More >>
    June 4, 2008 is the day that Steven Lowery's life changed forever. That day he was spending time with friends at a local river. He dove in, broke his neck, and was left paralyzed. Many people suffering that tragedy would have become withdrawn and distant. But you don't know Steven and his remarkable outlook on life.More >>
  • Spring breakers enjoy the coast

    Spring breakers enjoy the coast

    Sunday, April 20 2014 8:00 AM EDT2014-04-20 12:00:18 GMT
    It was a busy day on the beaches of Biloxi Saturday, as people came out to enjoy the sun on the second day of Mississippi Gulf Coast Spring Break.More >>
    It was a busy day on the beaches of Biloxi Saturday, as people came out to enjoy the sun on the second day of Mississippi Gulf Coast Spring Break.More >>
  • Water advisories issued for 6 areas of the beach

    Water advisories issued for 6 areas of the beach

    Saturday, April 19 2014 7:55 AM EDT2014-04-19 11:55:08 GMT
    Advisories have been issued for several sections of the beach in Harrison and Hancock counties. The beaches aren't closed, but there may be an increased risk of illness associated with swimming in these areas.More >>
    Advisories have been issued for several sections of the beach in Harrison and Hancock counties. The beaches aren't closed, but there may be an increased risk of illness associated with swimming in these six areas.
    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.