A reverend was leading the local call for hate crimes to be filed immediately against an apparent white supremacist accused of killing two people on Wednesday specifically because they were Black. It’s been nearly a week since the racially motivated attacks took place, but “Kentucky and federal prosecutors still haven’t called the Kroger killings a hate crime,” the Louisville Courier-Journal reported Tuesday.
Gregory Alan Bush, 51, attempted but failed to enter a predominately Black church in the city of Jeffersontown before going to a nearby Kroger where he shot and killed 69-year-old Maurice Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones, 67. He reportedly told an armed witness, “Whites don’t shoot whites,” before he was arrested.
“What’s the delay?” the Rev. David Snardon asked Tuesday morning. “Why haven’t public officials been more forceful in calling this a hate crime?”
Further adding to the outrage was the fact that the Justice Department officially unveiled its brand new website devoted to hate crimes and related prosecutions. The press release made reference to the synagogue mass shooting in Pittsburgh on Saturday, but there was no mention of Jeffersontown.
The truth that officials haven’t completely admitted was that Kentucky’s law for hate crimes is extremely limited. “[A hate crime] is a finding that is sought after conviction,” Sam Marcosson, a professor at the University of Louisville’s School of Law, told WDRB, a local news outlet.
“A person may be found by the sentencing judge to have committed an offense specified below as a result of a hate crime if the person intentionally because of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin of another individual or group of individuals or because of a person’s actual or perceived employment as a state, city, county, or federal peace officer, member of an organized fire department, or emergency medical services personnel, violates a provision of” a number of legal violations, including murder, according to the Kentucky Legislature’s website.
Hate crimes are also notoriously difficult to prosecute, in part because there isn’t a single national agency tracking cases’ conviction rates, according to PBS.
As of early Tuesday afternoon, Bash remained charged with two counts of murder and 10 counts of felony wanton endangerment.