Following a national surge in hate crimes, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced bicameral legislation today to strengthen federal laws that combat hate speech, threats, and attacks. As incidents of hate crimes continue to rise, the National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality (NO HATE) Act would improve reporting and expand assistance and resources for victims of hate crimes. In a recent high-profile incident, two Indian men in Kansas were shot by a man who shouted “get out of my country” before opening fire. Meanwhile, Jewish Community Centers across the country have experienced a significant uptick in bomb threats and other attempts at intimidation.
“Since the election, we have seen a deplorable uptick in hate crimes and speech targeting Jews, Muslims, Indian-Americans, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals and many other marginalized groups,” Blumenthal said. “Hate crimes don’t just harm one individual or one piece of property—they’re intended to hurt an entire community. That’s what makes hate crimes so dangerous and insidious. But that’s also why it’s so important for us to stand together in opposition to hate crimes.”
“Police forces across the country should be focused on reducing hate crimes,” said Beyer. “We cannot allow the rise in anti-immigrant acts, acts of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and crimes against LGBTQ individuals since the election to metastasize into a culture of cruelty and intolerance. By tracking and reporting incidents of hate crimes nation-wide, we can know whether we are making progress towards their prevention.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which supports this legislation, reported 701 acts of hateful intimidation and harassment in just the first week after the election. The FBI has also reported a nearly 7% increase in the number of hate crimes in 2015 compared to 2014. This was driven by an alarming 67% increase in the number of anti-Muslim crimes.
The NO HATE Act would help combat the recent surge in hate crimes by:
Helping Victims Seek Justice in the Courts: This law will establish a federal private right of action for hate crimes, offering victims of hate crimes the option to fight for remedies in civil court, and ensuring that everyone—even in states without hate crime laws on the books—can have his or her day in court. Although Connecticut has a state private right of action, most states do not.
Improving Reporting of Hate Crimes: This law will improve reporting of hate crimes by supporting the implementation of and training for NIBRS, the latest crime reporting standard, in law enforcement agencies without it. This will allow law enforcement agencies to record and report detailed information about crimes, including hate crimes, to the FBI. Between 2009 and 2015, 17% of all law enforcement agencies failed to file a single hate crimes report, and in some states, a majority of law enforcement agencies failed to file a single hate crime report over the same period. Helping law enforcement agencies recognize and report detailed information on hate crimes and report that data to the FBI will help establish a clear picture of the threats that vulnerable communities are facing across the country.
Establishing Hate Crime Hotlines: This law will provide grants for states to establish and run hate crime hotlines, to record information about hate crimes and to redirect victims and witnesses to law enforcement and local support services as needed. This will make sure that hate crimes don’t go unreported and victims get the help that they need. New York and Maryland established hate crime hotlines in November.
Rehabilitating Perpetrators of Hate Crimes through Education and Community Service: This law will allow for judges to require individuals convicted under federal hate crime laws to undergo community service or education centered on the community targeted by the crime.
The legislation is also co-sponsored in the Senate by U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The legislation is also co-sponsored in the House by U.S. Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Ron Kind (D-WI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), and Paul Tonko (D-NY).