FBI encourages hate crime reporting in South Carolina

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AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — Hate crimes in South Carolina nearly doubled in a year. According to the FBI, 57 were reported in 2019, while 110 were reported in 2020.

“In the society we’re in today, there are probably more hate crimes reported today than there were 10 to 15 years ago,” Capt. Martin Sawyer of the Aiken Department of Public Safety, says.

South Carolina is one of three states in the U.S. without a hate crime law. If a hate crime is committed, federal investigators are called to step in.

The FBI has launched a new campaign in South Carolina encouraging people to report hate crimes if they believe they are a victim or witnessed one. “The advertising campaign in the state includes billboard messages, 30-second videos on gas station pumps at participating locations, mobile cellular telephone advertisements, and recorded messages on various radio stations,” according to the agency.

“If they think it may be a hate crime, come talk to us. We have a local FBI office here in Aiken. We’ll call and get them involved, and we’ll go from there.”

If a hate crime is committed in the city of Aiken, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) will work with the FBI on the case. DPS will handle the initial crime, and the FBI will take charge of the hate crime.

“We’re here to assist victims and get defendants prosecuted. If it’s a hate crime, that makes it worse. We’re going to take it to the FBI and get them as much time as we can in state or federal prison.”

“No one should ever be subjected to hate crimes in our society,” added Susan Ferensic, the FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Columbia Field Office. “This campaign shows that the FBI is dedicated to pursuing offenders of these heinous crimes and holding them accountable.”

You can submit a tip to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov or by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI. You can remain anonymous.

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