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U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley supports SB 577

I’d like to take a moment to introduce you to the work of the Larnell Bruce, Jr. Foundation, which was formed by the family of Larnell Bruce, Jr. after he was murdered in a hate crime in Oregon in 2016. His murderer’s trial was the first hate crime murder conviction in our state in more than 30 years, and yet, the sentencing made clear how outdated our hate crime statutes are. Due to a technicality in the law, the man who murdered Larnell received a lesser sentence than he would have otherwise.

That’s why I’m proud to support the work being done by the Larnell Bruce, Jr. Foundation to update our state’s hate crime laws through the Oregon Hate Crime Bill (SB 577) and name the act in honor of Larnell. A young man’s life was cut short, and a family will mourn his presence for the rest of their lives, so it’s hard to say that this is justice – but it is the purest manifestation of grace for a family that has experienced such pain to be doing everything they can to fix a broken system, ease the pain of other families who may still follow in their footsteps, and prevent future hate crimes in our state. I can’t imagine a better way to honor Larnell’s memory, and I strongly encourage the Oregon legislature to pass this measure.

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