As the world witnessed in Charlottesville, VA, earlier this summer sadly, hatred, intolerance, and bias continue to fester in our nation. We need to stop the bigotry, prejudice and hatred once and for all.
In fact, Charlottesville was only the most recent, albeit perhaps the best publicized, examples of how hatred and intolerance can too easily lead to destruction, injury, and death in our nation. The most recent FBI report compiled under the auspices of the Hate Crimes Statistics Act documented that hate crimes against African Americans, LGBT community members, Native Americans, Jews, and Muslims all increased in 2015. In 2015 law enforcement agencies submitted incident reports involving 5,850 criminal incidents and 6,885 related offenses as being motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity. There were a total of 7,173 reported victims, and there were 2,338 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against property.
However, the FBI also documented 87 cities with over 100,000 in population either affirmatively reporting zero (0) hate crimes – or did not participate in the program at all. This is unacceptable, since the best policies are driven by data, by conclusive facts. The first step in addressing hate violence in America is to know its nature and magnitude. We must incentivize and encourage accurate, credible reporting to the FBI under the Hate Crimes Statistics Act by all jurisdictions.
Please find below links to two documents which I hope you will find useful as we advocate for stronger federal and state hate crime prevention laws. The first document is an Action Alert for the National Opposition To Hate, Assault and Threats to Equality Act or NO HATE ACT of 2017 (S.662/HR1566), a bill that would solve one of the biggest problems we have with the hate crimes reporting provision in the Hate Crimes Statistics Act and the implementation of the Mathew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
The second attachment is the State-by-State Hate Crimes Laws Assessment document that provides an analysis of hate crimes laws in each of our nation’s 50 states and the District of Columbia. It lays out which states have existing state hate crimes laws that address race, religious worship, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, political affiliation and age. There are, by the way, 4 states that have no state anti-hate crimes laws (Georgia, Indiana, Utah and Wyoming.) It would be our hope that you work with your state conference leadership to make sure any improvements that are needed, or to protect what is there.
We are urging that NAACP State Conference leadership review the state-by-state hate crimes prevention laws document to determine the extent to which hate crimes prevention laws are in place in your state now, and how (if) they could, and should, be strengthened. If there are no anti-hate crimes laws in your state, a full, complete, and comprehensive bill encompassing all of the categories listed is needed and should be crafted and introduced by supportive state legislators. Finally, we recommend that the NAACP State Conference of Branches reach out to and work in coalition with like-minded partners through to passage and implementation.
As always, if there is anything more I can do for you or for your state NAACP leadership, please do not hesitate to contact me at (202) 463-2940.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter and for all that you do to advance civil rights, justice and equality.