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Willamette Week - Family of Murdered Black Teen Join Chorus Urging Legislators To Pass SB 577

Updated: Jun 13, 2019

"Under Oregon law, it is presently a felony for two individuals to apply racist graffiti but a misdemeanor for one individual to beat another individual because of the color of their skin."

By Katie Shepherd Willamette Week | Published June 2

The family of Larnell Bruce, Jr., the black teenager murdered in Gresham by a member of a white supremacist gang, wrote to Oregon legislators this weekend to urge them to pass a bill that would strengthen the state's hate crime statute.

Larnell Bruce, Sr., and Natasha Bruce, his father and stepmother, wrote June 1 to the three lawmakers who chair the Joint Ways and Means Committee, which has the power to push Senate Bill 577 forward or let it stall without a vote.

"You know the importance of this Hate Crime legislation at a time when hate crimes are increasing in Oregon," the letter says. "This is deeply personal to us. Every day, we live with the pain of hate crimes, and the deep sorrow that the state's antiquated intimidation laws allowed a convicted white supremacist murderer to receive a lesser sentence."

Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Beaverton) and Rep. Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) co-chair the committee, where the bill sits now.

Last week, advocates and politicians began raising concerns that the proposed legislation had not been added to a list of bills set to be funded by the end of 2019. (more)

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