Assistant Attorney General Kristin Clark of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division joined U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross for the Western District of New York to announce a new initiative to combat illegal hate behavior in the Western District of New York. The United Against Hate initiative aims to connect federal, state and local law enforcement directly with traditionally marginalized communities to build trust and encourage reporting of hate crimes and hate incidents. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland recently announced the nationwide launch of the program, which will be expanded to all 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices over the next year.
“The Department of Justice is committed to mobilizing all available resources to hold accountable those who engage in unlawful acts of hate,” Assistant Attorney General Clark said. “By Uniting Against Hate, we bring together community groups, local leaders and law enforcement at all levels to build trust and strengthen coordination in the fight against illegal acts of hate. When we unite against hate, our communities, schools, Workplaces, places of worship and homes will all be safer.”
“The horrific events of May 14 took the lives of 10 members of our community because of their race and simply because they were black,” said U.S. Attorney Ross. “This kind of racially based hatred is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in this community or our society. This community has shown that hatred will not be accepted through Action this month, when our entire community stands together to convey the message that hate does not win. The United Against Hate initiative unites federal, state and local law enforcement with communities most at risk of being victims of hate crimes or hate incidents, while empowering Those who commit these acts are held accountable for their actions. Together, we will continue to deliver the message that everyone deserves to feel safe in their community and that hatred will not be tolerated.”
Community Relations Services Director Paul Monteiro, FBI Acting Special Director Darren Cox and Buffalo Police Deputy Chief Al Wright also attended the event. After speaking with community leaders, civil rights advocates, and community members, subject matter experts from their offices conducted presentations and direct discussions with community leaders and advocates on taking steps to identify, report, and prevent hate crimes and incidents. Using hypothetical scenarios and video clips depicting real-life hate crime cases and stories, speakers emphasized the importance of reporting illegal acts of hate. They also highlight the difference between hate crimes and hate incidents and provide options for responding to hate incidents when the situation does not constitute a federal or state crime. Speakers also distinguished unlawful conduct from protected First Amendment activity, including identifying protected speech from speech that promotes violence or encourages people to commit hate crimes.
As part of its United Against Hate program, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will engage with communities in the Western District of New York to deepen ties with those communities, further prevent hate crimes, and encourage more people to report hate crimes and hate incidents.
Last spring, three U.S. Attorney’s offices (New Jersey, Massachusetts, and the Eastern District of Washington) successfully piloted the program, launching a nationwide coalition against hate. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced the end of the joint anti-hate program pilot at a May Department of Justice event in honor of his memorandum on improving the Department of Justice’s efforts to combat illegal hate conduct and the enactment of COVID-19 Hate crimes and hate-free conduct by Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer.