LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Arkansas' governor says the state should have harsher penalties for people convicted of targeting others because of their race, ethnicity or religion, calling for the measure in the wake of two mass shootings that include one in Texas being investigated as a possible hate crime.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson told a group of sheriffs on Tuesday that he wants to end the state's distinction as only one of four without a hate crimes law. Hutchinson later said he would support the measure also including enhanced penalties for people targeted for their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Republican says he wants to build broad support for the measure before bringing it before the Legislature, which will meet next year for a session focused primarily on the state budget.
“I want you to know today that I don’t want Arkansas to be one of those four states. I want Arkansas to say loudly and clearly that we’re not gonna tolerate hate in the name of religion or race or ethnicity," The governor said on Tuesday.
"I want to see legislation passed in Arkansas that would enhance penalties for targeting for race, ethnicity or religion."