A proposed law that specifically makes cross-burning a crime is under review at the Capitol. People have been prosecuted in Missouri for burning or trying to burn crosses, but it’s been under the assault-hate crime statutes. The courts now have held that cross burnings,are not constitutiaonlly-protected free speech if they are intended to intimidate. Howard County prosecutor Mason Gebhart prosecuted a man in 2002 for burning a cross at the home of a racially mixed couple. But he had to prosecute under the assault laws. He wants the new, more specific law. The Anti-Defamation League’s Karen Aroesty says that’s not the only incident in the last three years. She says a cross also has been burned recently in Sikeston. And Kansas City had an attempted cross-burning. A Senate committee is expected to recommend in a few days that the full Senate pass the bill.
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