On the one-year anniversary of enactment of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, the Department of Justice today announced a series of actions to deter and confront hate crimes and other bias-related incidents, including:
- Issuing new guidance with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Releasing grant solicitations for programs to create state-run hate crime reporting hotlines and to support community-based approaches to prevent and address hate crimes; and
- Hiring the Department’s inaugural Language Access Coordinator.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, Deputy Attorney Lisa O. Monaco, Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm, and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta announced these new initiatives at an event at the Justice Department commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Attorney General’s memorandum on improving the Department’s efforts to combat hate crimes and hate incidents and the enactment of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes and Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer NO HATE Acts. They were joined by family members of Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer, members of Congress; Black, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community-based organizations; civil rights organizations; and law enforcement leaders.
“Throughout our history, and to this day, hate crimes have a singular impact because of the terror and fear they inflict on entire communities,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “No one in this country should have to fear the threat of hate fueled violence. The Justice Department will continue to use every resource at its disposal to confront unlawful acts of hate, and to hold accountable those who perpetrate them.”
“We have seen a spike in hate crimes against many communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cases, individuals are still scared to leave their homes – not only because of worry that they may contract the virus, but out of fear for their physical safety. This is unacceptable,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, who serves as Co-Chair of the White House Initiative and President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to combatting hate crimes against all Americans. Today’s announcements help deliver on the President’s pledge to ensure the safety of our communities.”
As set forth in the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, the Justice Department and HHS announced the joint issuance of guidance aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes during the COVID–19 pandemic. This guidance provides an overview of the rise of hate crimes and hate incidents during the pandemic, including a surge of hate crimes and hate incidents against Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities, and several steps that law enforcement, government officials, and others can take to raise awareness of increased hate crimes and incidents, and to use increased awareness as a tool for the prevention of and response to hate crimes.
The Justice Department also announced the release of $10 million in grant solicitations in newly created grant programs to address hate crimes and hate incidents. This includes solicitations for grants authorized under the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act programs. Through these programs, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) will provide up to $5 million in grant funds for the Bureau of Justice Statistics to support the transition of state and local law enforcement agencies to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) and reporting of hate crimes through NIBRS, and for the Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) to fund states to establish and run state-run reporting hotlines for victims of hate crimes. OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) also released $5 million in grant solicitations under the Community-Based Approaches to Prevent and Address Hate Crimes Program, which supports community-based organizations and civil rights groups with implementing comprehensive approaches to promote community awareness and preparedness, increase victim reporting, strengthen community resiliency, and improve responses to hate crimes.
The Justice Department announced that Ana Paula Noguez Mercado will join the Office for Access to Justice, where she will serve as the Department’s first-ever Language Access Coordinator. Language access is a key barrier to the reporting of hate crimes, and the Language Access Coordinator will help improve knowledge, use, and expansion of the Department of Justice’s language resources.
Finally, the Justice Department announced that Saeed Mody will serve as the Department’s new Anti-Hate Crimes Resources Coordinator, after the first ever Coordinator was recently named Director of the newly restored Office of Access to Justice.
Over the last year, the Justice Department has taken a number of other actions in response to a rise in hate crimes and hate incidents. Some of these actions include:
- Designating a Deputy Associate Attorney General as the Justice Department’s first-ever Anti-Hate Crimes Resources Coordinator;
- Designating the chief of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division to serve in role of facilitating the expedited review of hate crimes;
- Going above and beyond the directive under the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to expedite the review of certain hate crimes by including additional types of hate crimes;
- Designating at least one Assistant U.S. Attorney as a Civil Rights Coordinator in every U.S. Attorneys’ Office (USAO);
- Vigorously investigating and prosecuting hate crimes – since January 2021, the department has charged more than 40 defendants in over 30 cases and obtained more than 35 convictions of defendants charged with bias-motivated crimes;
- Elevating civil rights violations and hate crimes enforcement for prioritization among the FBI’s 56 field offices;
- Facilitating FBI-hosted regional conferences across the country with state and local law enforcement agencies regarding federal civil rights and hate crimes laws; to encourage reporting; strengthen relationships between law enforcement and local civil rights organizations; and build trust within the diverse communities they serve;
- Launching an FBI-led National Anti-Hate Crimes Campaign involving all 56 FBI field offices to encourage reporting. The campaign includes outdoor advertising, billboards, and radio streaming in addition to social media;
- Ensuring that all states have now become certified for participation in the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting National Incident Based Reporting System;
- Revitalizing the Community Relations Service (CRS) by, among other things, seating newly-confirmed director, Paul Monteiro;
- Adding information to the Department of Justice’s website on reporting hate crimes in 24 languages, including 18 of the most frequently spoken AAPI languages in the United States;
- Creating an online toolkit that provides USAO Civil Rights Coordinators with customizable community outreach materials and ready access to other resources and training;
- Piloting a new outreach training called United Against Hate help improve the reporting of hate crimes by teaching community members how to identify, report, and help prevent hate crimes and to provide an opportunity for trust building between law enforcement and communities;
- Developing additional resources to help empower local officials, community leaders, and residents to address and devise community responses to hate crimes and incidents, including a toolkit to address hate crimes and incidents against Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, which has been translated into Arabic, Chinese (both Simplified and Traditional), Farsi, Hindi, Korean, Urdu, Tagalog, and Vietnamese;
- Releasing close to $21 million in grant funding through these programs to state and local partners to investigate and prosecute hate crimes and assist hate crime victims, including through the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Program to support state, local, and tribal law enforcement and prosecution agencies in their efforts to investigate and prosecute hate crimes and in their outreach to and education of the public, victims, and others on hate crimes; and
- With the Department of Education, issuing facts sheets addressing harassment and discrimination in school, including harassment based on COVID-19 related issues, harassment of LGBTQI+ students, and discrimination based on national origin and immigration status.