Whitney Woodward, AP, July 2, 2008
The Senate voted Wednesday to ratchet up the penalties for people who burn crosses or hang nooses could face, providing those acts were carried out to intimidate a person of a different race or background.
A plan sponsored by Sen. Doug Berger, D-Franklin, would make the displays felonies. Such offenses are misdemeanors under current law.
He said burning crosses and noose hangings are acts of terrorism.
“We’re not trying to punish speech here, we’re trying to punish an act, and that’s the act of intimidation,” Berger said.
“I believe that the need for this bill ought to be self-evident,” said Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham.
[Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph] said the measure could have the unintended consequence of punishing teens who don’t realize the seriousness of their actions.