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October 28, 2013 1

Matthew Shepard And James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act Four Years Later: Demonstrating Its Value

This week marks the fourth anniver­sary of the sign­ing of the Matthew Shep­ard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Pre­ven­tion Act (HCPA).  The HCPA is the most impor­tant, com­pre­hen­sive, and inclu­sive hate crime enforce­ment law enacted in the past 40 years. In addi­tion, pas­sage of the act has sparked a wel­come round of police train­ing and out­reach – and the devel­op­ment of a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant new hate crime train­ing and pre­ven­tion resources. hate-crimes-prevention-act-HCPA

It is appro­pri­ate to pause to reflect on the extra­or­di­nar­ily broad coali­tion ADL was priv­i­leged to lead in sup­port the HCPA – includ­ing over 250 civil rights, edu­ca­tion, reli­gious, civic, and pro­fes­sional orga­ni­za­tions and, cru­cially, vir­tu­ally every major law enforce­ment orga­ni­za­tion in the coun­try. Orig­i­nally drafted in 1996, progress on the bill was stalled, Con­gress after Con­gress, because of per­sis­tent, adamant – and erro­neous – con­cerns about the impact of the bill’s cov­er­age of hate crimes directed at indi­vid­u­als because of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. In the end, even after 13 long years of advo­cacy, with the strong sup­port of Pres­i­dent Obama and Attor­ney Gen­eral Holder, the mea­sure still had to be attached to “must-pass” leg­is­la­tion – the Depart­ment of Defense FY 2010 Autho­riza­tion bill – in order to be enacted into law.

But now, four years later, advo­cates can­not doubt that the titanic efforts to enact the HCPA by Sen­ate and House cham­pi­ons and the hate crime coali­tion were worth­while. Here are high­lights of some of the impor­tant advances since the enact­ment of the HCPA, Pub­lic Law 111–84.

­Train­ing

  • Lawyers from the Depart­ment of Jus­tice (DoJ) Civil Rights Divi­sion, FBI agents, and pro­fes­sion­als from DoJ’s Com­mu­nity Rela­tions Ser­vice have trained thou­sands of state and local law enforce­ment offi­cials from more than a dozen states on the HCPA’s new tools and federal-state part­ner­ship opportunities.  

Enforce­ment

  • DoJ has inves­ti­gated dozens of cases and has brought indict­ments in about 20 cases, includ­ing sev­eral cases in states that lack their own hate crime laws.    
  • Under the expanded author­ity of the HCPA, Jus­tice Depart­ment lawyers have pro­vided foren­sic and other inves­tiga­tive assis­tance to state and local law enforce­ment offi­cials pros­e­cut­ing cases under their state laws. 
  • In coor­di­na­tion with sev­eral lead US Attor­neys, DoJ has vig­or­ously defended the HCPA in both facial and as applied con­sti­tu­tional challenges. 

Hate Crime Data Collection

Resources

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July 31, 2013 0

Remembering the Hate Crime Victims at Oak Creek – And Acting

Update — August 5, 2013: ADL has joined a coali­tion of groups urg­ing the White House to also take steps to address religious-based vio­lence and discrimination.

On August 5, 2012, six Sikh wor­ship­pers were killed, and four oth­ers wounded, by a white suprema­cist skin­head at their Gur­d­wara in Oak Creek, Wis­con­sin.  The shooter then turned his gun on him­self.  Less than a week after the tragedy, US Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder. Jr.  par­tic­i­pated in a memo­r­ial ser­vice for the vic­tims, stat­ing that the crime was “an act of ter­ror­ism, an act of hatred, a hate crime.”  sikh-temple-shooting-oak-creek-anniversary

Now, one year later, we observe the anniver­sary of this tragedy, hon­or­ing the mem­ory of the vic­tims by ele­vat­ing the fight against dis­crim­i­na­tion and hate crimes – and by work­ing to ensure that all places of wor­ship will be safe.

In the after­math of the Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 ter­ror­ist attacks, our nation has expe­ri­enced a dis­turb­ing num­ber of back­lash attacks against Mus­lim, Sikhs, Arabs, and South Asians.  In fact, the first bias-motivated mur­der after 9/11 was Bal­bir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas sta­tion owner in Mesa, Arizona. 

After the Oak Creek Gur­d­wara mur­ders, ADL Chicago/Upper Mid­west Regional Office Direc­tor Lon­nie Nasatir par­tic­i­pated in a pro­gram in Oak Creek with the US Attor­ney and FBI offi­cials to show sup­port for the com­mu­nity and ADL pro­fes­sion­als across the coun­try reached out to Sikh orga­ni­za­tions to pro­vide resources on how to keep their com­mu­nity insti­tu­tions safe.

ADL has been the national leader in pro­mot­ing improved hate crime data col­lec­tion by law enforce­ment author­i­ties.  Since 2008, the League has sup­ported requir­ing the FBI to col­lect and report spe­cific data on hate crimes directed against Sikhs, Arabs, and Hindus.  

The mur­ders at Oak Creek pro­vided addi­tional impe­tus to make this change.  And the issue was exam­ined and pro­moted in Sep­tem­ber 19 Sen­ate Judi­ciary Sub­com­mit­tee on the Con­sti­tu­tion, Civil Rights and Human Rights hear­ings on “Hate Crime and the Threat of Domes­tic Extrem­ism,” to which the League sub­mit­ted com­pre­hen­sive tes­ti­mony. 

Work­ing with Con­gres­sional cham­pi­ons, like Rep. Joseph Crow­ley, the League helped to coor­di­nate a coali­tion effort to urge the FBI to include these new hate crime data cat­e­gories as part of the Bureau’s annual hate crime report pre­pared under the 1990 Hate Crime Sta­tis­tics Act.   In May, an FBI Advi­sory Pol­icy Board rec­om­mended that the Bureau take this action.  

As we com­mem­o­rate the first anniver­sary of the tragedy at Oak Creek, we can take some solace in know­ing that our com­mu­ni­ties have done some­thing pos­i­tive to address that hor­rific inci­dent.  Col­lect­ing spe­cific data on hate crimes directed against indi­vid­u­als will increase pub­lic aware­ness, encour­age vic­tims to report these crimes, and expand exist­ing engage­ment and rela­tion­ships between law enforce­ment author­i­ties and these com­mu­ni­ties. ADL has joined a coali­tion of groups urg­ing the White House to also take steps to address religious-based vio­lence and discrimination. 

Our atten­tion now turns to work­ing with the FBI and local law enforce­ment offi­cials to pro­vide train­ing and edu­ca­tion on these crimes.

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July 18, 2013 0

Arizona Aryan Brotherhood Member Convicted Of Hate Crime For Threatening Phoenix Officer

A Phoenix jury on July 10, 2013, con­victed a self-professed mem­ber of the Ari­zona Aryan Broth­er­hood, Brian Lee Harm, of one felony count of threat­en­ing the Phoenix Police Depart­ment offi­cer who had arrested him for tres­pass­ing in August 2012.  The con­vic­tion included a hate crime enhancement.brian-lee-harm

Accord­ing to the police report filed after Harm’s arrest, the offi­cer encoun­tered Harm while respond­ing to a call about a white male wav­ing his hands in the air and yelling at pass­ing vehi­cles.   When the offi­cer found him, Harm—who matched the descrip­tion called in—was attempt­ing to force open the slid­ing glass doors of a nearby office build­ing.  The offi­cer, and a sec­ond offi­cer who soon arrived at the scene, spoke with Harm and even­tu­ally placed him under arrest for trespassing. 

Fol­low­ing his arrest, Harm became angry and abu­sive, soon laps­ing into repeated crude eth­nic slurs.  Accord­ing to the offi­cer, Harm’s rhetoric esca­lated, with Harm threat­en­ing to injure or kill the offi­cer and to “make trou­ble” for all offi­cers in the area.  When Harm stated that he was a mem­ber of the Aryan Broth­er­hood (a ref­er­ence to the Ari­zona Aryan Broth­er­hood, a large and vio­lent white suprema­cist prison gang), the offi­cer began record­ing Harm’s remarks.

Among the recorded remarks Harm made was a threat to “beat nig­ger chil­dren, too, I don’t fu–in’ care.”  Harm said that he would have “all my Broth­er­hood broth­ers” come to the neigh­bor­hood and “you’ll pay the ulti­mate price.”  He told the offi­cer that “ni—rs won’t be safe in this neigh­bor­hood” and that “it’s gonna be tough to go out to din­ner for you now.”  His remarks included many more sim­i­lar com­ments, includ­ing addi­tional threats.

Pros­e­cu­tors charged harm with felony threat­en­ing or intim­i­dat­ing as well as assist­ing a crim­i­nal street gang.  In Harm’s July 2013 trial, the jury acquit­ted Harm of the assist­ing a gang charge but found him guilty of threat­en­ing or intim­i­dat­ing.  Fur­ther­more, in the aggra­va­tion phase of delib­er­a­tions, the jury found that the offense involved the inflic­tion or threat­ened inflic­tion of seri­ous phys­i­cal injury, that the defen­dant com­mit­ted the offense with the intent to pro­mote, fur­ther or assist crim­i­nal con­duct by a crim­i­nal street gang, and that the offense was a bias crime (i.e., a hate crime).

Harm is cur­rently in the Mari­copa County Jail await­ing sentencing.

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