Lafayette state Rep. Rickey Hardy says he feels confident a bill he has introduced to outlaw public displays of nooses used for intimidation will become law. Yesterday, the House Criminal Justice committee unanimously approved the bill, which now moves on to the full House for a vote. Hardy says he expects a floor vote on Tuesday. “I feel very confident,” he says, citing President Bush’s own speech last February calling the recent racial feud in Jena, La. involving a hanging noose a “shameful chapter in American history.” Teenagers who hung the noose were not prosecuted under federal hate crime laws because they were juveniles. The incident garnered international attention and sparked a national civil rights rally in the small North Louisiana town. “We want to make sure that we work to eradicate that type of behavior,” Hardy says. “We don’t need to have negative publicity in terms of 35,000 people protesting.” Hardy modeled his bill after a state law banning cross burning. In committee, the bill was amended from a maximum penalty of 15 years incarceration and a $15,000 fine down to a max one-year incarceration and a $5,000 fine. “I’m comfortable with that,” Hardy says. “The bottom line is to get a law on the books.”

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