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November 20, 2015 0

Today We Remember Transgender Lives Lost and Recommit to Justice

For the past six­teen years on Novem­ber 20th, trans­gen­der peo­ple and allies around the world have come together to mark Trans­gen­der Day of Remem­brance (TDOR). It is a day to honor trans­gen­der peo­ple whose lives trag­i­cally ended in the last year as a result of anti-transgender vio­lence and dis­crim­i­na­tion and cel­e­brate the resilience of those who are liv­ing. At memo­r­ial ser­vices around the coun­try, the names of trans­gen­der peo­ple who have been killed in the last year are read.


Much like observ­ing a yahrtzeit (the anniver­sary of a death), it is a time for reflec­tion and intro­spec­tion. This year was an espe­cially vio­lent year, with at least 22 reported mur­ders in the United States since Jan­u­ary, almost dou­ble the num­ber of trans mur­ders in all of 2014. This year has also wit­nessed a sig­nif­i­cant increase in reported non-lethal anti-trans vio­lence. And the major­ity of this year’s vic­tims were trans­gen­der women of color.

Just this past week, the Con­gres­sional LGBT Equal­ity Cau­cus hosted a forum that brought together advo­cates and com­mu­nity lead­ers to dis­cuss how to address soar­ing lev­els of vio­lence against trans­gen­der peo­ple. Unsur­pris­ingly, issues of racism, poverty, the sys­tem­atic mar­gin­al­iza­tion of trans peo­ple, includ­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion in schools, jobs and hous­ing were high­lighted. Advo­cates pri­or­i­tized com­pre­hen­sive nondis­crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions and immi­gra­tion and crim­i­nal jus­tice reform as a way to reduce vio­lence against trans people.

Also ear­lier this week, the FBI released the 2014 Hate Crime Sta­tis­tics Act (HCSA) report. While the report doc­u­mented a decrease in the num­ber of reported hate crimes in the United States, crimes tar­get­ing vic­tims on the basis of their gen­der iden­tity tripled. Tripled. And the vio­lence against trans­gen­der peo­ple is not lim­ited to the United States.  Trans Mur­der Mon­i­tor­ing (TMM) project, a pro­gram of Trans­gen­der Europe, sys­tem­at­i­cally mon­i­tors, col­lects and ana­lyzes reports of homi­cides of trans peo­ple world­wide. This year TMM iden­ti­fied 271 trans per­sons to be added to the list to be remembered.

It is impor­tant to take this day to mourn and to honor the lives of those trag­i­cally cut short by hatred and vio­lence. And it is also a day to re-commit to nam­ing the prob­lems work­ing on solutions.

A com­pre­hen­sive fed­eral anti-discrimination law that explic­itly includes gen­der iden­tity is essen­tial. We must ensure that trans­gen­der peo­ple are explic­itly pro­tected from dis­crim­i­na­tion in hous­ing, employ­ment, pub­lic accom­mo­da­tions, edu­ca­tion, fed­eral fund­ing, credit, and jury ser­vice. These legal pro­tec­tions will go far in reduc­ing the num­ber of trans­gen­der peo­ple put in vul­ner­a­ble posi­tions as a result of discrimination.

State hate crime laws must cover hate crimes com­mit­ted on the basis of gen­der iden­tity and expres­sion. An inclu­sive fed­eral hate crime law is not enough. We must redou­ble our efforts to ful­fill the goals of ADL’s 50 States Against Hate cam­paign, par­tic­u­larly enhanced train­ing for law enforce­ment offi­cers on how to iden­tify and respond to hate crimes com­mit­ted against trans peo­ple, bet­ter data col­lec­tion and report­ing by law enforce­ment agen­cies, and increased pub­lic education.

And we must edu­cate young peo­ple and edu­ca­tors about trans­gen­der lives. Our schools must be places where trans­gen­der and gen­der non-conforming youth are able to thrive in an envi­ron­ment that is safe and free from bul­ly­ing and harassment.

So today, we remem­ber and mourn. Tomor­row we con­tinue to fight fiercely for secur­ing jus­tice and fair treat­ment to all.


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August 31, 2015 0

A Special Trip to Atlanta, and a New Campaign to Combat Hate Crimes in America

By Jonathan Green­blatt
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt with  Congressman John Lewis at an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the lynching of Leo Frank.

ADL National Direc­tor Jonathan Green­blatt with Con­gress­man John Lewis at an event com­mem­o­rat­ing the 100th anniver­sary of the lynch­ing of Leo Frank.

Last week was a spe­cial week for me per­son­ally and more impor­tantly, I hope, for the Anti-Defamation League as we began a cam­paign to ensure every Amer­i­can is pro­tected by a state hate crime law.

In Atlanta, Geor­gia, near the site of the lynch­ing of Jew­ish pen­cil fac­tory man­ager Leo Frank a cen­tury ago (an inci­dent which, com­ing just two years after the for­ma­tion of ADL, sent shock waves through the Jew­ish com­mu­nity and gal­va­nized our work), we launched #50StatesAgainstHate, a nation­wide effort to shore up hate crime laws in America.

Along with two dozen groups, includ­ing the Human Rights Cam­paign and the National Coun­cil of La Raza, we made a com­mit­ment to pass hate crime laws in the five states that do not have them (includ­ing Geor­gia and South Car­olina, site of the hor­ri­ble Charleston 9 mur­ders ear­lier this sum­mer), strengthen laws on the books in other states so they include crimes against the LGBT com­mu­nity, and train law enforce­ment on how to pros­e­cute these crimes.

This work embod­ies ADL’s found­ing mis­sion: To stop the defama­tion of the Jew­ish peo­ple, and to secure jus­tice and fair treat­ment to all.

This dual and com­ple­men­tary mis­sion is what we brought me to Atlanta – to launch this new cam­paign and to speak with lead­ers of both the Jew­ish and African-American com­mu­ni­ties there, two peo­ples with very dif­fer­ent his­to­ries, but a shared com­mit­ment to an inclu­sive Amer­ica where equal treat­ment and oppor­tu­nity are avail­able to all.

Mr. Greenblatt in Atlanta discussing ADL's new campaign for tougher hate crimes laws across the country

Mr. Green­blatt in Atlanta dis­cussing ADL’s new cam­paign for tougher hate crimes laws across the country

My fam­ily and I cel­e­brated Shab­bat (the Jew­ish Sab­bath) with Con­gre­ga­tion Or Hadash, a syn­a­gogue that rel­a­tives of mine attend which has made social jus­tice a key part of its mis­sion. There, I spoke about the Iran deal and how the Jewish-American com­mu­nity must not let it dis­agree­ments over it tear us apart.

The next day, I was hon­ored to take the pul­pit of Ebenezer Bap­tist Church, Dr. Mar­tin Luther King Jr’s church and cen­ter of the Civil Rights Move­ment. There, we mourned the news of Julian Bond’s death, and then looked for­ward to the work ahead: includ­ing pass­ing a hate crimes law in Geor­gia. It was won­der­ful to meet Mar­tin Luther King III and his fam­ily who was at the ser­vice, and the warm wel­come that the con­gre­ga­tion gave me – a man of a dif­fer­ent race and faith – is some­thing that I will always remember.

On Mon­day, the anniver­sary of the Leo Frank lynch­ing, our local ADL lead­er­ship was joined by Geor­gia Attor­ney Gen­eral Sam Olens, for­mer Geor­gia Gov­er­nor Roy Barnes, and Con­gress­man John Lewis as we marked the somber occa­sion and kicked off the #50StatesAgainstHate cam­paign. For those that doubt the Jew­ish and African-American com­mu­ni­ties can come together, I say: come to Atlanta and see how ADL and Jew­ish com­mu­nal lead­ers are work­ing together toward shared goals that will pro­tect us both and make our coun­try stronger.

While the week­end was inspi­ra­tional and invig­o­rat­ing, I am under no illu­sions that the work ahead of us will take many months – and even many years. But know­ing that our cause is just, I know that ADL and our part­ners will keep at it – day after day – until we are able to say that we hon­ored the mem­ory of Leo Frank and all those killed by hate-filled mur­der­ers and passed hate crimes laws in all 50 states.

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August 25, 2015 1

When Hateful Speech Leads to Hate Crimes: Taking Bigotry Out of the Immigration Debate

By Jonathan Green­blatt
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

When police arrived at the scene in Boston, they found a Latino man shak­ing on the ground, his face appar­ently soaked in urine, with a bro­ken nose.  His arms and chest had been beaten.  One of the two broth­ers arrested and charged with the hate crime report­edly told police, “Don­ald Trump was right—all these ille­gals need to be deported.”

The vic­tim, a home­less man, was appar­ently sleep­ing out­side of a sub­way sta­tion in Dorch­ester when the per­pe­tra­tors attacked.  His only offense was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The broth­ers attacked him for who he was—simply because he was Latino.

In recent weeks anti-immigrant—and by exten­sion anti-Latino—rhetoric has reached a fever pitch.  Immi­grants have been smeared as “killers” and “rapists.”  They have been accused of bring­ing drugs and crime.  A radio talk show host in Iowa has called for enslave­ment of undoc­u­mented immi­grants if they do not leave within 60 days.  There have been calls to repeal the 14th Amendment’s guar­an­tee of cit­i­zen­ship to peo­ple born in the United States, with alle­ga­tions that peo­ple come here to have so-called “anchor babies.”  And the terms “ille­gal aliens” and “ille­gals”— which many main­stream news sources wisely rejected years ago because they dehu­man­ize and stig­ma­tize people—have resurged.

The words used on the cam­paign trail, on the floors of Con­gress, in the news, and in all our liv­ing rooms have con­se­quences.  They directly impact our abil­ity to sus­tain a soci­ety that ensures dig­nity and equal­ity for all.  Big­oted rhetoric and words laced with prej­u­dice are build­ing blocks for the pyra­mid of hate.

Biased behav­iors build on one another, becom­ing ever more threat­en­ing and dan­ger­ous towards the top.  At the base is bias, which includes stereo­typ­ing and insen­si­tive remarks.  It sets the foun­da­tion for a sec­ond, more com­plex and more dam­ag­ing layer: indi­vid­ual acts of prej­u­dice, includ­ing bul­ly­ing, slurs, and dehu­man­iza­tion.  Next is dis­crim­i­na­tion, which in turn sup­ports bias-motivated vio­lence, includ­ing hate crimes like the tragic one in Boston. And in the most extreme cases if left unchecked, the top of the pyra­mid of hate is genocide.

Just like a pyra­mid, the lower lev­els sup­port the upper lev­els.  Bias, prej­u­dice and discrimination—particularly touted by those with a loud mega­phone and cheer­ing crowd—all con­tribute to an atmos­phere that enables hate crimes and other hate-fueled vio­lence.  The most recent hate crime in Boston is just one of too many.  In fact, there is a hate crime roughly every 90 min­utes in the United States today.  That is why last week ADL announced a new ini­tia­tive, #50StatesAgainstHate, to strengthen hate crimes laws around the coun­try and safe­guard com­mu­ni­ties vul­ner­a­ble to hate-fueled attacks. We are work­ing with a broad coali­tion of part­ners to get the ball rolling.

Laws alone, how­ever, can­not cure the dis­ease of hate.  To do that, we need to change the con­ver­sa­tion.  We would not sug­gest that any one person’s words caused this tragedy – the per­pe­tra­tors did that; but the rhetor­i­cal excesses by so many over the past few weeks give rise to a cli­mate in which prej­u­dice, dis­crim­i­na­tion, and hate-fueled vio­lence can take root.

Rea­son­able peo­ple can dif­fer about how we should fix our bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem, but stereo­types, slurs, smears and insults have no place in the debate.

Immi­grants have been a fre­quent tar­get of hate, and unfor­tu­nately, prej­u­dice and vio­lence are not new.  Many of our ances­tors faced sim­i­lar prej­u­dice when they came to the United States. In the 1800s, the attacks were against Irish and Ger­man immi­grants. Next was a wave of anti-Chinese sen­ti­ment cul­mi­nat­ing with the Chi­nese Exclu­sion Act in 1882. Then the hatred turned on the Jews, high­lighted by the lynch­ing of Leo Frank in 1915.  Then came big­otry against Japan­ese immi­grants and peo­ple of Japan­ese dis­sent, which led to the shame­ful intern­ment of more than 110,000 peo­ple dur­ing World War II.  Today, anti-immigrant big­otry largely focuses on Lati­nos.  The tar­gets have changed, but the mes­sages of hate remain largely the same.  It is long past time for that to end.

ADL, as a 501©(3), does not sup­port or oppose can­di­dates for elec­tive office,but we have a sim­ple mes­sage for all pol­i­cy­mak­ers and can­di­dates:  There is no place for hate in the immi­gra­tion debate.  There is noth­ing patri­otic or admirable about hatred and hate-fueled vio­lence.  The only accept­able response to hate crimes is unequiv­o­cal, strong con­dem­na­tion.  And the same is true for the bias, prej­u­dice, and big­oted speech that have recently per­me­ated the immi­gra­tion conversation.

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