Arkansas, home to supremacist groups, weighs hate crimes law

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The threat of white supremacy has been well known in Arkansas, where various extremist groups have made their home over the decades, but efforts to enact a hate crimes measure have been unsuccessful.

Concerns about hate-fueled offenses highlighted by recent mass shootings, including one in neighboring Texas that killed 22 people, have sparked renewed interest in legislation imposing harsher penalties for crimes targeting people because of their race, ethnicity or religion. The latest push comes from Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson. As a federal prosecutor in the 1980s, he wore a bulletproof vest to negotiate the end of a standoff with a white supremacist group in north Arkansas.

Pressure for new legislation is also mounting in Georgia and South Carolina, two other states without a hate crimes law.

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