Politics

Sheila Jackson Lee says anti-white supremacy bill pushback due to ‘misinformation’

The bill is also proposing penalties for individuals who post materials online that lead to the planning and development of someone committing a hate crime. 

Ashley Brown / Houston Public Media
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has presented a bill to prevent white supremacy-inspired crimes. But she has gotten pushback from conservative lawmakers.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee is pushing for congress to add more protection against hate crimes inspired by white supremacy. The "Leading Against White Supremacy Act of 2023 (LAWS) was presented to Congress this month, but the bill faced a lot of criticism.

The LAWS Act is intended to "prevent and prosecute white supremacy-inspired hate crime, and conspiracy to commit white supremacy-inspired hate crime, and to amend Title 18, to expand the scope of hate crimes."

Several conservative lawmakers have criticized Jackson Lee on the language in the bill and said it violates freedom of speech. She said it’s her attempt to help prevent hate crimes like the shootings in Buffalo, New York and in El Paso from happening again.

"As a legislator, I have worked to do what's best for America and how to keep America safe," she said.

Jackson Lee represents the 18th District in Houston, which is a predominantly minority district. She said within the past week, hate materials have been found within Houston neighborhoods — including her district.

"We have found hateful bags, hateful information in Mission Bend, we've found it in Northwest Houston, anti-Semitic materials – we've found hateful materials in Montrose and the Heights – my district," she said.

Jackson Lee said there's been a lot of misinformation about her bill that could provoke people to anger. She said her bill doesn't violate the first amendment.

"It amends the hate crime bill and it has race, ethnicity, and religion, and it has white supremacy motivated crimes – that is distinctive from speech," she said. " I can read what the first amendment says – you have the right to association, you have the right to freedom of religion, speech...it is protected."

The bill is also proposing penalties for individuals who post materials online that lead to the planning and development of someone committing a hate crime.

Jackson Lee gave the example of someone making a post online that catches the attention of someone who then drives to North Texas and kills 20 Mexican Americans.

The congresswoman said she hopes other lawmakers can work together to make the bill bipartisan.

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