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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

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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Items 21 - 30 of 34  Previous1234Next

Swift Senate Passage of Hate Crimes Bill Urged

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. 

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LGBT Hate Crimes Hit a High; Federal Law Needed

June 23, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Of all hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2007 (the most recent data available), the proportion committed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals rose to 16.6 percent, the highest level in five years, according to a new LCCREF report.

The report, "Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America 2009," analyzes trends in federal hate crimes data and contains a series of recommendations for action by public officials, civic leaders, and the public.

Hate crimes send a message of terror to an entire group of people, not just the individual victim. According to the FBI, LGBT individuals have been the third most frequent target of hate violence over the past decade.

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Shenandoah Teenagers Involved in Hate Crime Sentenced Today

June 17, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

Today, a Pennsylvania judge sentenced the two teenagers convicted of simple assault for their role in the July 2008 fatal beating of Luiz Ramirez, a 25 year-old Mexican immigrant, to prison for up to 23 months.

"The meager sentences handed to the defendants today leaves justice gasping for further redress. The failure to hold these defendants responsible for their atrocious crimes denies justice not just to the Ramirez family, but also to the entire community by failing to deter similar crimes in the future," said Gladys Limón, staff attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

In May, a jury acquitted the two teenagers of more serious charges, including aggravated assault, third degree murder and ethnic intimidation, the Pennsylvania hate crimes law.  The acquittal on these charges sparked outrage from the civil rights community who pointed to numerous reports that the attack was racially motivated.

The Justice Department is currently investigating whether to prosecute the two teenagers under federal civil rights statutes

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New LCCREF Report Documents Rise in Hate Crimes and Hate Speech

June 16, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

Wade Henderson, Michael Lieberman, John Amaya, and Wade Henderson

(l to r) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D. Nev.; Michael Lieberman, Washington counsel of the Anti-Defamation League; John Amaya, legislative staff attorney for MALDEF; and Wade Henderson, president of LCCR at a June 15 Senate press conference in support of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Today, LCCREF released a new report, "Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America," that analyzes trends in federal hate crimes data, particularly the rise in anti-Latino hate crimes in the wake of the heated national debate over immigration reform.  The report also documents how extremists use the Internet, radio and other forms of media to promote their messages and recruit new members.

"In an increasingly diverse America, there is no civil right more fundamental to the working of American Democracy than protecting individuals from acts of violence because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or disability," said Wade Henderson, president of LCCR.

The Senate is expected to vote on their version of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which passed in the House in April, before Congress recesses in August. The bill will provide local authorities with more resources to combat hate crimes and give federal government jurisdiction over prosecuting hate crimes in states where the current law is inadequate.

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Stronger Laws Are Needed to Combat Violent Hate Crimes in the United States

June 15, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

At a June 5 U.S. government-sponsored human rights panel discussion in Geneva, Switzerland, Wade Henderson, president and CEO of LCCR, called for the adoption of more effective hate crime laws in the United States. In his remarks, Henderson noted that in the U.S. "the number of hate crimes reported has consistently ranged around 7,500 or more annually—that's nearly one every hour of every day."

The number of hate crimes "committed against Hispanics and those perceived to be immigrants has increased each of the past four years for which FBI data is available" and violence against individuals "because of their sexual orientation has increased to its highest level in five years," according to Henderson.  With the well-documented rise in hate crime violence in Europe, especially in the former Soviet Union countries, Henderson argued, the U.S. could demonstrate international leadership by tackling the spread of hate crimes at home.

LCCR supports the passage of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would give the federal government jurisdiction over prosecuting hate crimes in states where the current law is inadequate. It would also facilitate federal investigations and prosecutions when local authorities are unwilling or do not have the resources to do so themselves.  The bill passed in the House of Representatives in April, but the Senate has yet to vote on it.

Henderson's impassioned plea for stronger hate crime laws came just five days before James W. von Brunn, a white supremacist and prolific writer of anti-Semitic materials, opened fire at the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C., killing Stephen T. Johns, an African-American museum guard.

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MALDEF Urges the Department of Justice to Bring Hate Crime Charges against Shenandoah Teenagers

May 20, 2009 - Posted by Cathy Montoya

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund has launched a petition calling for the Department of Justice to file federal hate crime charges against the teenagers responsible for the brutal murder of Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pa.

On July 14, 2008, Ramirez died of injuries he suffered during an attack by a group of teenagers.  The teenagers reportedly yelled racial epithets at Ramirez as they beat him.  On May 1, 2009, a jury found two of the defendants accused of beating Ramirez guilty of simple assault, but acquitted the defendants of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation, despite evidence showing that the attack was racially motivated.

Under current law, the Department of Justice has the authority to bring federal charges on hate crimes motivated by the victim's race, color, religion, and national origin.

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Pennsylvania Teenagers Acquitted of Hate Crime; Federal Law Needed

May 5, 2009 - Posted by Corrine Yu

On Friday, a jury acquitted two teenagers of serious charges, including ethnic intimidation, in the fatal beating of Luiz Ramirez, a 25 year-old Mexican immigrant, in Shenandoah, Pa., last July.

Police say that the teenagers used ethnic slurs as they repeatedly punched Ramirez, knocked him to the ground, and then kicked him several times in the head. Ramirez died of his injuries two days later.

Hate crimes against Latinos have been increasing since 2003, according to FBI data. Civil rights groups said that this increase correlates closely to the increasingly heated debate over immigration reform and a rise of anti-immigrant rhetoric on radio, television, and the Internet.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act, which will provide local authorities with more resources to combat hate crimes and give federal government jurisdiction over prosecuting hate crimes in states where the current law is inadequate.

"[T] his verdict underscores the importance of the passage of this Act," said Henry Solano, MALDEF interim president and general counsel. "It is time for the Department of Justice to step in and bring justice to the Ramirez family and send a strong message that violence targeting immigrants will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

The Justice Department is currently investigating whether to prosecute the two teenagers under federal civil rights statutes.

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House Passes Hate Crimes Bill

April 29, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

The House of Representatives passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA) today (249-175).

"[The vote] is a victory for those who may find themselves targeted because of the color of their skin, their gender identity, sexual orientation, gender, or disability.  It is a victory for the families of victims of hate crimes – people like Angie Zapata of Colorado, Luis Ramirez of Pennsylvania, Billy Ray Johnson of Texas, and Matthew Shepard of Wyoming," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of LCCR. "Today, the House has sent a clear message that Americans do not have to live in fear."

The LLEHCPA 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.

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.

The bill must be passed by the Senate and signed by the president before becoming law.

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House Judiciary Committee to Vote on Hate Crimes Bill Today

April 22, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

UPDATE: The LLEHCPA was voted out of committee (15-12) on April 23.

The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote today on the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA).

The LLEHCPA 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.

It would 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.

Hate crimes continue to be a problem in the U.S.  According to the most recent FBI data, crimes against Latinos increased for the fourth year in a row in 2007, and those against gays and lesbians increased by nearly six percent.  In addition, hate crimes against Jewish people and people who are Black or Asian/Pacific Islander also increased.

The LLEHCPA is supported by 26 state attorneys general and over 300 national law enforcement, professional, education, civil rights, religious, and civic organizations.

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Government Report Points to Rise in Hate Groups

April 21, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Rightwing Extremism report cover

Hate groups and right wing extremists are using Americans' concern about undocumented immigration, the current economic downtown, and the election of the first African-American president to gain new recruits, according to a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report leaked last week.

As was the case during the recession of the early 1990s, hate groups have exploited the perception that undocumented immigrants are taking jobs away from American citizens and used it as a call to action. The report notes that the anti-immigrant rhetoric by right-wing extremists "has the potential to turn violent."

Fear of a pending economic collapse has also made it easy for hate groups to exploit racial tensions and promote paranoia about the possibility that the government will take away certain civil liberties such as the right to bear arms or will create camps to detain citizens unlawfully. Many extremist groups, including militias, have stockpiled weapons and ammunition in preparation.

Much of the government's findings are consistent with a recent Southern Poverty Law Center report on hate group activity in the U.S.  that found an increase in the number of hate groups nationwide between 2007 and 2008.

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Items 21 - 30 of 34  Previous1234Next

Current Legislation

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.

History of the Act

 

 


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