The White House announced new initiatives to strengthen national and local hate crime prevention efforts at an event timed with the fifth anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, reflecting a federal commitment to expand implementation of the Act.
Executive Director Farhana Khera joined leading civil rights advocates at the White House event including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), Human Rights Campaign, and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to speak on the significance of James Byrd Jr. and Matthew Shepard on the civil rights movement. Ms. Khera spoke on the role of federal resources and leadership to “stem the tide of hate crimes” in light of increased hate crimes against Muslims and others based on their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
The new steps taken by the White House resulted in part from advocacy by a broad, national anti-hate crimes coalition—of which Muslim Advocates is a part—that urged the Obama administration to implement programs and initiatives associated with the hate crimes prevention legislation. The national coalition is co-chaired by Anti-Defamation League, Human Rights Campaign, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and American Association of University Women.
The new initiatives include the formation of an Interagency Initiative on Hate Crimes, expanded use of hate crime data, training for state and local law enforcement and community leaders as well as community forums on hate crimes to be hosted by the Department of Justice around the country. The Interagency Initiative will bring together a range of federal agencies to address hate crime prevention and response.
In addition to supporting expanded federal protections, Muslim Advocates has found that reporting hate crimes to local law enforcement continues to be a valuable tool to counter anti-Muslim hate across the country. We are working with another, related national coalition to encourage federal agencies to provide trainings and guidance to local law enforcement so they can more effectively work with our communities to help hold perpetrators of hate and violence accountable.
Muslim Advocates is working to remove the distrust and other barriers communities face when reporting hate crimes locally. It is important for community residents to report hate crimes to local law enforcement and provide as much detail as possible, for officials to be able to take action to hold perpetrators accountable.
Muslim Advocates focuses on improving relationships between law enforcement and our communities, most recently urging the federal government to improve training programs that guide federal and local law enforcement and end bigotry and discriminatory practices within trainings and training materials.
If you have questions about reporting a hate crime to local law enforcement, please reach out to Muslim Advocates. To learn more about hate crimes in your community, review the FBI’s compilation of hate crime statistics. Data for 2013 will be published in December.