NAACP Applauds U.S. Senate Passage of The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

68-29 VOTE USHERS IN A NEW ERA OF ENHANCED HATE CRIMES PREVENTION AND PROSECUTION

WASHINGTON DC – The NAACP applauds the United States Senate for passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  The Senate voted 68-29 in favor of the Act after the House passed the companion bill 249 to 145 in April. 

“This legislation begins a new era in hate crimes protection and prevention.  Its sends a clear message to all that we will not tolerate hate crimes against any American,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP. 

Currently, the federal government is allowed to intervene in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes only if the crime occurs on federal property or if the victim was participating in one of six very specific activities, such as voting.  This bill expands existing hate crime prevention laws and allow the federal government to assist the local authorities in the investigation and prosecution of crimes motivated by hate, regardless of where or what the victim was doing at the time of the crime.  The Act also expands the definition of a hate crime to include those motivated by the victim’s disability, gender or sexual orientation.  The bill also provides money to states to develop hate crime prevention programs

“The NAACP commends Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his leadership and all the Senators that worked hard to support and then voted for this landmark piece of legislation.  This piece of legislation will allow state and federal law enforcement agencies to provide necessary assistance to local law enforcement officials as they investigate and prosecute hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law.  It is our hope that with these additional resources and assistance we can begin to put an end to the vicious cycle of hate crimes that have plagued our communities for far too long,” said Hilary O. Shelton, Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Director, DC Bureau of the NAACP.
           
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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