Fighting hate

The damage done to St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church by arson 13 years ago is still visible today, as Congressman Pete Olson and local leaders of various organizations gathered for an event on Wednesday morning to discuss the hate crime legislation that Olson is cosponsoring with Virginia Democratic Senator Donald Beyer. Pictured, from left to right, Fort Bend County Judge K. P. George, Brazoria County NAACP President Eugene Howard, Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian Middleton, Log Cabin Republicans of Houston President Marco Roberts, Hindi community activist Sam Kannappan, President Southwest of the Ismaili Council of the United States Murad Ajani, Olson and Director of the American Jewish Coalition of Houston Randall Czarlinsky.     (Photo by Joshua Truksa)

By Joshua Truksa

Staff Reporter

Congressman Pete Olson, community leaders and representatives of various civil rights organizations gathered Wednesday morning to speak on House Resolution 3545, the “National Opposition to Hate, Assault and Threats of Equality Act of 2019” or “NO HATE Act,” that Olson cosponsored along with Virginia Democratic Sen. Donald Beyer, giving the legislation bipartisan support.

Leaders and members of the public met at the historic St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Missouri City.

The church, founded by former slaves in 1869, was almost destroyed by a suspected hate crime in 2006 when a large portion of the building was lost to arson and only the sanctuary was saved.

Pastor Gerald Rivers, who became involved with the church years ago when he was driving down Highway 6 one day and heard a message to turn left, said the hatred that inspires crimes against minorities like the one at his church 13 years ago is like a bad apple ruining the rest in a barrel or a contagious disease.

“Evil, again, is not only hatred, but it’s a disease. The CDC annually reports on different diseases within our country, but it does not report on hatred and hatred is something — it is a disease and it can be eradicated,” Rivers said.

Olson and other speakers felt the event had a good home in Missouri City with Fort Bend County being the most diverse county in the country.

“Hate is not welcome in Missouri City, in Fort Bend County, in Texas and all over America. Hate must end,” Olson proclaimed.

The proposed legislation would provide grants to states wishing to set up hotlines for the reporting of hate crimes, and grants for state and local entities to report hate crimes into the National Incident-Based Reporting System to monitor the nationwide prevalence of hate crimes.

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