Time to make a change: Father of FSU student killed in 2018 speaks on Atlanta shootings, hate crime laws

Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 11:14 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - As the horror of the shootings in Atlanta begins to settle in, it is hitting close to home for a bereaved family that has ties to Tallahassee.

The killer in the shooting is who the FBI says is a disgruntled man who had a vendetta against women.

Jeff Binkley founded Maura’s Voice in memory of his daughter, an FSU student who was shot alongside Dr. Nancy Van Vessem during a hot yoga class in Tallahassee in November of 2018.

Binkley has worked tirelessly since then to broaden hate crime laws in multiple states, including here in Florida.

WCTV’s Katie Kaplan spoke with Binkley Thursday night about the tragic event.

Binkley said he can actually feel the pain of the families of these victims. He understands it. He’s lived through a similar situation.

The Binkley family actually lives in the Atlanta area, so this tragedy hits on many levels.

Binkley added that while these events are painful, he takes solace in knowing he’s made a difference for the families of the victims.

“You can hear it in the community, that if it is indicated that there was bias motivation here, those families, the communities they belong to, they want that recognized,” said Binkley. “That’s important. They know that’s important because they want to prevent these tings from happening to anybody else.”

The state of Georgia passed a broad hate crimes bill just this past summer.

In Georgia, the shooter could be charged with a hate crime if the bias motivation is found. That’s not the case for Florida, where the shooter was headed next; violent hate crimes against women are not recognized under the current hate crimes law.

WCTV has interviewed Binkley many times about his efforts to change that.

Thursday was the first time he truly seemed frustrated, but he said he doesn’t plan on giving up.

Senate bill 194 seems to be stalled in committee right now, but Binkley says he’s hoping it will get another look.

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