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October 15, 2014 0

The Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act: Five Years Later

The Matthew Shep­ard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Pre­ven­tion Act (HCPA), enacted into law on Octo­ber 28, 2009, is the most impor­tant, com­pre­hen­sive, and inclu­sive fed­eral hate crime enforce­ment law passed in the past 40 years.Matthew_Shepard_and_James_Byrd,_Jr._Hate_Crimes_Prevention_Act

The HCPA encour­ages part­ner­ships between state and fed­eral law enforce­ment offi­cials to more effec­tively address hate vio­lence, and pro­vides expanded author­ity for fed­eral hate crime inves­ti­ga­tions and pros­e­cu­tions when local author­i­ties are unwill­ing or unable to act.  Impor­tantly, the HCPA adds sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der, gen­der iden­tity and dis­abil­ity to the groups which pre­vi­ously had fed­eral pro­tec­tion against hate crimes – race, color, reli­gion and national origin.

For more than a dozen years, the Anti-Defamation League led a broad coali­tion of civil rights, reli­gious, edu­ca­tional, pro­fes­sional, law enforce­ment, and civic orga­ni­za­tions advo­cat­ing for the HCPA. The leg­is­la­tion was stalled by fierce oppo­si­tion from some con­ser­v­a­tive orga­ni­za­tions — and, for eight years, by Pres­i­dent George W. Bush — in large part because it pro­vided new author­ity for the FBI and the Jus­tice Depart­ment to inves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute cases in which mem­bers of LGBT com­mu­ni­ties were tar­geted for vio­lence.  Ener­getic sup­port by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric H. Holder, Jr.  was essen­tial to achiev­ing final pas­sage of the measure.

The HCPA has proven to be a valu­able tool for fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors.  The Depart­ment of Jus­tice has brought more than two dozen cases over the past five years – and has suc­cess­fully defended the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of the Act against sev­eral con­sti­tu­tional chal­lenges.

Enact­ment of the HCPA also sparked a wel­come round of police train­ing and out­reach – and the devel­op­ment of a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant new hate crime train­ing and pre­ven­tion resources, includ­ing an updated Hate Crime Model Pol­icy pre­pared by the Inter­na­tional Asso­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Police.

Yet, much work remains to be done.  Hate crimes remain a seri­ous national prob­lem. In 2012 (accord­ing to the most recent data avail­able) the FBI doc­u­mented more than 6,500 hate crimes – almost one every hour of every day. The most fre­quent were moti­vated by race, fol­lowed by reli­gion and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.  Of the crime moti­vated by reli­gion, more than 60 per­cent tar­geted Jews or Jew­ish institutions.

Unfor­tu­nately, more than 90 cities with pop­u­la­tions over 100,000 either did not par­tic­i­pate in the FBI 2012 data col­lec­tion pro­gram or affir­ma­tively reported zero (0) hate crimes. That is unac­cept­able. As FBI Direc­tor James B. Comey said in remarks to the 2014 ADL Lead­er­ship Sum­mit, “We must con­tinue to impress upon our state and local coun­ter­parts in every juris­dic­tion the need to track and report hate crime. It is not some­thing we can ignore or sweep under the rug.”

The fifth anniver­sary of the HCPA pro­vides an impor­tant teach­able moment.  It is a fit­ting occa­sion for advo­cates, the Obama Admin­is­tra­tion, and Con­gress to pro­mote aware­ness of the HCPA, to report on the progress our nation has made in pre­vent­ing hate vio­lence, and to reded­i­cate our­selves to effec­tively respond­ing to bias crimes when they occur.

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April 3, 2014 0

Houston Terror Suspect Allegedly Behind Conspiratorial Facebook Page

robert-talbot-anti-muslim

Robert Tal­bot Jr.

Last week, the FBI arrested Robert Tal­bot Jr. on charges of plan­ning a vio­lent attack on a Houston-area mosque. A look into Talbot’s his­tory reveals that he not only fos­ters a deep-seated hatred of Mus­lims and Islam, but also sub­scribes to con­spir­acy the­o­ries of an alleged Mus­lim Broth­er­hood takeover of the U.S. and the need to com­bat the so-called “New World Order.” Talbot’s plan to attack the mosque and Mus­lim insti­tu­tions is the lat­est in a recent string of vio­lence directed toward the Muslim-American community.

Accord­ing to the FBI, Talbot’s plan was to recruit “like-minded” accom­plices to “blow up gov­ern­ment build­ings, rob banks, and kill law enforce­ment offi­cers.” In addi­tion, Tal­bot tar­geted Islamic cen­ters and mosques. Tal­bot allegedly planned to enter a mosque dur­ing Fri­day prayers and shoot wor­ship­pers dur­ing ser­vices. FBI offi­cials have also stated that it was part of Talbot’s plan to rob an armored car and attack a mosque with a machine gun. To jus­tify these acts of vio­lence, Tal­bot said that he would be “doing the Will of God.”

Law enforce­ment offi­cials state that Tal­bot is behind the con­spir­a­to­r­ial anti-Muslim and anti-government Face­book page, Amer­i­can Insur­gent Move­ment (AIM).  In posts attrib­uted to him, Tal­bot expressed racist and anti-Muslim con­spir­a­to­r­ial sen­ti­ments that the U.S. has been infil­trated by the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and that he intended to send “that White House worth­less piece of dirt and his Mus­lim Broth­er­hood a mes­sage they will never forget.”

In a Novem­ber 23, 2013 post, Tal­bot claimed that he is “not a racist per­son, but I’m only racist to those cul­tures whom show it, and this is why I don’t like Chinks, Mus­lims and a few other…” Tal­bot has also made threats against Obama admin­is­tra­tion advi­sor Valerie Jar­rett, who was born in Iran and who Tal­bot alleged is “a Muslim.”

The ‘About’ sec­tion of AIM’s Face­book page states that it is a group intended for indi­vid­u­als seek­ing to “restore Amer­ica Pre-Constitutionally and look for­ward to stop­ping the Regime with action by blood­shed.” Addi­tion­ally, many of Talbot’s post­ings allude to the need to fight “New World Order,” a con­spir­acy the­ory typ­i­cally revolv­ing around claims that the U.S. gov­ern­ment is try­ing to enslave, coerce, intim­i­date, scare, poi­son, or kill U.S. cit­i­zens on a mass scale.

In a March 1, 2014 post on the Face­book page, Tal­bot claimed that the NWO seeks “to turn Amer­i­can [sic] into their Marx­ist Mus­lim dream,” and that the “NWO can be stop [sic] and will be stopped.” In an ear­lier post from Feb­ru­ary 7, Tal­bot wrote that AIM is “Look­ing ONLY for ex-military or self-trained men who trained in guer­rilla war­fare and under­stand war/battle to the fullest.”

Talbot’s alleged plot is the lat­est in a series of recent inci­dents tar­get­ing Mus­lims and Mus­lim insti­tu­tions:

  • March 2014: The Prayer Cen­ter of Orland Park, located in a Chicago sub­urb, was fired at dur­ing early morn­ing prayer ser­vices by an unknown attacker. A bul­let allegedly struck the gold metal dome of the mosque.
  • March 2014: Sev­eral shots were fired at the Islamic Cen­ter of Hat­ties­burg, Mis­sis­sippi in the mid­dle of the night. Law enforce­ment stated that it is con­sid­er­ing the inci­dent as a “mali­cious mis­chief case.”
  • March 2014: An Iraqi immi­grant was gunned down in a shop­ping cen­ter park­ing lot in Sacra­mento, Cal­i­for­nia by an assailant who has expressed hatred for peo­ple of Mid­dle East­ern descent. Law enforce­ment is treat­ing the inci­dent as a hate crime.

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February 4, 2014 0

FBI Hosts ADL Extremism Training for North Texas/Oklahoma Regional Office

ADL’s North Texas/Oklahoma Regional Office pro­vided a day-long train­ing on domes­tic extrem­ism to 161 local, state and fed­eral law enforce­ment offi­cers rep­re­sent­ing 40 agen­cies on Jan­u­ary 29. The train­ing was co-sponsored and hosted by the FBI, Dal­las Divi­sion.dallas-fbi-adl-extremism-training

ADL’s Dr. Mark Pit­cav­age and Oren Segal, two of the Direc­tors of ADL’s Cen­ter on Extrem­ism, pre­sented train­ing on the activ­ity, tac­tics and ide­ol­ogy of var­i­ous domes­tic extrem­ists move­ments and groups. Dr. Pit­cav­age focused on anti-government move­ments, includ­ing sov­er­eign cit­i­zens, as well as white suprema­cists. Mr. Segal focused on the rad­i­cal­iza­tion process and crim­i­nal activ­ity asso­ci­ated with home­grown extrem­ists moti­vated by rad­i­cal inter­pre­ta­tions of Islam, as well as the role of the Inter­net in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion process.

“The FBI Dal­las Divi­sion is proud to part­ner with ADL on a num­ber of ini­tia­tives, includ­ing law enforce­ment train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties,” said Assis­tant Spe­cial Agent in Charge Don­ald Freese. “These con­fer­ences strengthen national secu­rity by train­ing law enforce­ment to iden­tify and pre­vent hate crimes and extrem­ism in our community.”

“ADL is grate­ful to the FBI for being strong com­mu­nity part­ners, help­ing to pro­vide such impor­tant train­ings for law enforce­ment through­out our Region,” said ADL North Texas/Oklahoma Com­mu­nity Direc­tor Roberta S. Clark. “In addi­tion to pro­vid­ing crit­i­cally impor­tant train­ing, these oppor­tu­ni­ties allow us to inform law enforce­ment pro­fes­sion­als about the many ways ADL can be of assis­tance to them in areas of hate crimes, hate groups, extrem­ists and terrorists.”

The FBI Cit­i­zens Acad­emy Alumni Asso­ci­a­tion gen­er­ously hosted a Con­ti­nen­tal break­fast for the par­tic­i­pants. The train­ing eval­u­a­tions were over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive and expressed great appre­ci­a­tion to ADL for pro­vid­ing such an impor­tant opportunity.

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