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Attorney General Mark Herring's hope to end hate in Virginia

ROANOKE, VA (WFXR News) - Just two days after the Patrick County Board of Supervisors publicly condemned racism and Nazi thought and idealism, Attorney General Mark Herring stopped in Roanoke to fight against hate crime and white supremacy.

This was his sixth and final stop in a statewide series roundtable to meet with local leaders and community members. One mother that attended was Harpreet Panesar.

"My child is the only child in Roanoke County, Roanoke City and Salem that wears a head gear," Panesar said.

Panesar's family moved to the U.S. from India in 2001 and she said she loves calling America home. However, recently her family's faith was questioned.

A local school staff member told her son to remove his religious head gear and said it was against school code.

"Was it the skin color? Was it she really did not know and thought it was a cap or it was just a case of bullying? I'm not really sure at this point," Panesar said.

Statistics show her family is not alone. State police report there's been a 64% increase in hate crime in Virginia in 2013.

"One of the really damaging things about hate crimes is their design to strike fear in groups of people and push them into the shadows and make them feel that they're somehow not a part of our community and that's just not who we are as a commonwealth or who we want to be," Attorney General Mark Herring said.

The A.G. said he is currently working on legislative proposals to push this type of behavior out of the Commonwealth.

Those proposals are updating the definition of hate crime is to include gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability, giving localities the tools to prohibit firearms at certain events, and stopping white supremacist heavily armed private militias.

"We're all Virginians, we all belong here, we all have a home here," Herring concluded.


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