Hate Crimes & LLEHCPA
Hate crimes remain a festering and horrifying problem in the United States. Although there are laws on the books to deter hate crimes and protect their victims, significant gaps remain unfilled.
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October 26, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
A federal jury recently convicted Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak of hate crimes charges stemming from the July 2008 fatal beating of Luiz Ramirez, a 25-year-old Mexican immigrant.
October 8, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
This week, a group of more than 70 civil rights organizations, including The Leadership Conference, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, offered a set of recommendations for federal action, in the wake of the deaths of four teens who had been reportedly subjected to harassment and bullying based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation.
May 14, 2010 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
The U.S. Sentencing Commission recently adopted changes to the federal sentencing guidelines to permit crimes in which the victim is intentionally selected on the basis of gender identity to be eligible for sentencing enhancements.
November 23, 2009 - Posted by Ron Bigler
FBI Report Finds Hate Crime at Highest Level since 2001
Following a slight drop in 2007, the number of reported hate crimes in United States rose in 2008, according to latest figures from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
In its annual report, "Hate Crime Statistics 2008", the FBI documented 7,783 hate crimes in 2008, up from the 7,624 reported in 2007. The 2008 report shows the highest number of crimes directed at Blacks, Jews, and gay men and lesbians since 2001.
While the uptick in reported hate crimes is a disturbing trend, it may also reflect the fact that a higher number of law enforcement agencies are participating in the FBI's annual data collection effort. The FBI reported that 13,690 law enforcement agencies in the United States participated in the 2008 report – the largest number of police agencies in the 18-year history of the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990.
October 29, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law yesterday, October 28.
The following slide show features photographs of President Obama and the families of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., at the White House signing ceremony and a reception at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters in Washington, D.C., for activists who worked more than a decade to pass this landmark legislation.
Photo Credits: Jenna Wandres of LCCR and Sammie Moshenberg of National Council of Jewish Women
October 22, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
UPDATE: On October 28, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law.
Today, the Senate gave final congressional approval 68-29 to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expands the definition of federal hate crimes and removes unnecessary obstacles to federal prosecution.
With President Obama likely to sign the Act into law soon, civil rights groups are celebrating a historic achievement following more than a decade of advocacy.
"We applaud lawmakers for recognizing the fundamental right of all Americans to be protected from violence because of their race, the way they worship, their sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability status. Congress' decision to pass this bill sends a clear message to these victims of violence and their families – individuals like Stephen Tyrone Johns of Washington, D.C., Sean Kennedy of South Carolina, Angie Zapata of Colorado, Luis Ramirez of Pennsylvania, and Matthew Shepard of Wyoming – that we value every American's basic civil and human right to be safe and free from physical harm," Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, said.
October 19, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
This week is the "2009 Media Violence Fast", an annual week-long campaign that encourages people to take a stand against violent media by making a conscious decision to not watch or listen to it. The campaign is sponsored by the So We Might See Coalition, a diverse group of faith organizations that includes the United Church of Christ, U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Islamic Society of North America, and others.
This year's focus is on the increasing amount of anti-immigrant hate speech in media, particularly in television news and talk radio. You can go to the campaign's website to sign a petition asking the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Commerce to conduct an inquiry into hate speech and update a government report that collects statistics and information about the connection between hate speech and hate crimes.
October 8, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
"The House of Representatives today took a strong stand for law enforcement and the advancement of civil and human rights by sending a clear signal that America will not tolerate crimes motivated by bias and hate," Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, said. "The civil rights community, which has been fighting for passage of this legislation for 14 years, applauds the House for its vote today. We urge the Senate to approve the legislation without delay."
The House originally passed the legislation in April. The Senate added the legislation to the Department of Defense Authorization bill in July, but also added an onerous amendment making certain hate crimes eligible for the death penalty. The House removed the death penalty language before approving the bill today, 281-146.
The bill was renamed in honor of James Byrd, Jr., who was lynched in Texas in 1998, the same year that Matthew Shepard was killed in Wyoming in a vicious hate crime.
July 20, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
On Friday, the Senate passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act as an amendment to the fiscal year 2010 Department of Defense authorization bill. But today, the Senate passed an amendment to the Act, offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R. Ala., that would allow the death penalty to be applied in hate crimes cases under some circumstances.
LCCR and other civil and human rights groups that are supporting the Act do not support the Sessions amendment. In a letter to the Senate, the groups said: "We strongly oppose this amendment...The death penalty is irreversible and highly controversial – with significant doubts about its deterrent effect and clear evidence of disproportionate application against poor people. Moreover, there are serious, well-documented concerns about unequal and racially biased application of the death penalty."
The Sessions amendment can still be removed from the bill by a House-Senate conference committee that will meet in September to reconcile the two versions of the legislation. The full House and Senate will vote on the final version of the bill before it is sent to President Obama.
The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act will authorize the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute certain bias-motivated crimes based on the victim's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. Currently, the federal government can only investigate hate crimes motivated by the victim's race, color, religion, and national origin in limited cases.
It will also provide local authorities with more resources to combat hate crimes and give the federal government jurisdiction over prosecuting hate crimes in states where the current law is inadequate or when local authorities are unwilling or do not have the resources to do so themselves.
July 1, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Though the House of Representatives passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act three months ago, the Senate has yet to take action on the bill.
Last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Obama administration strongly supported the bill, stating, "The President and I seek swift passage of this legislation because hate crimes victimize not only individuals, but entire communities."
Michael Lieberman, Washington counsel for the Anti-Defamation League and co-chair of LCCR's hate crimes task force testified to the escalating problem of hate crimes in the U.S., citing recent FBI statistics and LCCREF's recent report, "Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America."
"Failure to address this unique type of crime could cause an isolated incident to explode into widespread community tension. The damage done by hate crimes, therefore, cannot be measured solely in terms of physical injury or dollars and cents. By making members of minority communities fearful, angry, and suspicious of other groups – and of the power structure that is supposed to protect them – these incidents can damage the fabric of our society and fragment communities," said Lieberman.
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law on October 28, 2009.
A version of the Act was first introduced in 1997, and the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed some version of it at various times since then.
Documenting Hate Crimes
Below are some of the Leadership Conference coalition members who work on this issue.
In The News
Recent news clips on this issue.