Hirono, Cantwell Renew Call for Federal Response to Hate Crimes

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HONOLULU – Sens. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) wrote to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Aug. 16, urging him to create an interagency task force to address the increase in hate crimes that has stricken the country.

The recent outburst of violent racism and domestic terrorist activity by white supremacist organizations and individuals in Charlottesville, Va., has made the senators’ call for action even more urgent.

“President Trump’s reluctance to quickly and directly condemn the hate, bigotry, and racism of the white supremacists and members of the Ku Klux Klan that gathered in Charlottesville was deeply alarming to us and to millions of Americans,” wrote the senators. “In light of the horrific attack and hatred demonstrated this weekend in Charlottesville, we urge you to act quickly to address the alarming rise of hate in our country.”

Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)

In April, Hirono joined a similar group of her colleagues to send a letter to President Trump asking for the task force; to this day, the letter has yet to be directly answered by the administration. Although the Department of Justice has created a subcommittee focused on hate crimes, the subcommittee lacks sufficient power to effectively address the rise of hate crimes as its scope has never been defined.

The letter notes that hate crime incidents have increased from 5,479 in 2014 to 5,850 in 2015, a rise of seven percent, and expresses concerns about the administration’s recent actions to decrease funding for efforts to stop white extremism and eliminate funding for efforts dedicated to de-radicalizing neo-Nazis. The Southern Poverty Law Center found that the number of hate groups operating in the U.S. rose to 917 in 2016, an increase of 25 from 2015. In particular, anti-Muslim hate groups almost tripled in 2016.

New America Media is partnering with the Documenting Hate Project, a collaborative of media outlets, civil rights groups and tech companies nationwide working to document the rise of hate crimes and incidents of bias or harassment in the United States since the 2016 election. If you have experienced or witnessed a hate crime or incident of bias or harassment, you can use this form to send information about the incident to the Documenting Hate Project. The form is not a report to law enforcement or any government agency. It will be used as part of a national database for use by journalists, researchers and civil rights organizations.

Read more here.