Attorney General Loretta Lynch Speaks on Escalating Hate Crimes

Attorney General Loretta Lynch Speaks on Escalating Hate Crimes

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Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch visited a mosque in Northern Virginia on Monday to discuss the spike in hate crimes.

In her speech at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center, Lynch warned that attacks on one minority group threaten society as a whole.

“There is a pernicious thread that connects the act of violence against a woman wearing a hijab to the assault on a transgender man to the tragic deaths of nine innocent African Americans during a Bible study at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina,” said Lynch. “There is a thread that links all of those, and when one of us is threatened, all of us are threatened.”

In 2015, reported hate crimes in the U.S. escalated by approximately six percent. Data released by the FBI last month indicated that this increase was led by attacks against Muslims.

Lynch said 5,818 hate crimes were reported in 2015, which is clearly a “sobering indication of how much work remains to be done.

Attacks on mosques and assaults on Muslims increased by 67 percent to 257 crimes.

The attorney wanted to comfort those who are worried about this rise in religious discrimination.

“I know that many Americans are feeling uncertainty and anxiety as we witness the recent eruption of divisive rhetoric and hateful deeds,” she said. “I know that many Americans are wondering if they are in danger simply because of what they look like or where they pray. I know that some are wondering whether the progress we have made at such great cost, and over so many years, is in danger of sliding backwards.”

Lynch admitted that the Department of Justice will encounter trials along the way, but assured that prosecutors will not stop imposing federal hate crime laws.

“Members of the Civil Rights Division have heard repeatedly about more overt discrimination in both the tone and framing of objections to planned religious institutions, especially mosques and Islamic centers,” she added.

Therefore, she said the Justice Department has unlocked 50 investigations and filed 10 lawsuits that comprise the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. Lynch said 38 percent of the cases included mosques or Islamic schools.