MARYLAND- The parents of a boy who was murdered in 2017 were in Annapolis urging lawmakers to broaden Maryland’s hate crime law with a new bill.
Richard Collins’ III, an African American college student and lieutenant in the army, was stabbed to death on the University of Maryland’s campus in 2017, and on Tuesday his parents met with lawmakers about legislation that could change law, so that hate doesn’t have to be the sole motivation for a hate crime.
“Now, prosecutors can prove that if the crime is committed in part because of one of the hate based factors that’s sufficient under the new proposed statue,” Luke Rommel, a Salisbury lawyer, said. Although Collins’ killer was found guilty of murder, he was let off on the hate crime charge because the judge ruled that hate wasn’t the determining factor. This despite the fact that his killer belonged to a racist group on social media. “Anything that’s going to give a prosecutor the discretion to pursue something that makes us all safer, we hope, and makes our community better to me it’s a good thing,” Rommel Said.
It’s a move that both attorneys we spoke to agree with, as well as the Salisbury University NAACP.
“I don’t think one single thing can constitute as hate, so I think with this new law with this imposing the bill it would give more sense and more meaning to what is validated as a hate crime,” Chantess Robinson, SU NAACP President. Students on SU’s campus also agreed that the changing of the law could be a step forward in making college campuses and the community safer in general. “I think it’s clarity for everybody so we can take this next step into writing what’s wrong and ensuring these type of crimes, these types of hate speech, this type of hatred is not allowed anywhere within our nation,” Robinson said.
“I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction expanding protections for individuals is something that I can stand by,” Harrison Leon, SU student, said.
The two bills, HB917 and SB606, are cross-filed together. They were both heard Tuesday and referred to committee.