Mississippi Citizens for Austin’s Law
To Whom It May Concern:
MS Citizens for Austin’s Law was founded in response to the attack on Austin Stokes, a 14 year old boy with cerebral palsy in early 2012. Austin was a second semester freshman at George County High School when he was attacked by a senior who called him a “retard” prior to the attack
If Austin had been attacked because he was a racial minority, a member of a religion other than that of the attacker or from a different country, his attacker would have been charged with a Hate Crime with the possibility of a sentence enhancement. While we certainly agree that all of the protected classes are appropriate, we formally request that disability be added to that list of protected classes under the law.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 3,378,960 Americans with Disabilities were victims of violent crimes in 2010. While federal law 18 U.S.C. § 249 , and the laws in 30 states and the District of Columbia protect people with disabilities as a part of their hate crimes statutes Mississippi does not.
We respectfully submit that no Mississippian should fear attack because of hate.
We are asking that you support us in the effort to petition the MS State Legislature to protect people with disabilities by amending the current statute to add disability to the list of protected classes.