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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

Press Release - Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

Coalition Urges Swift House Passage of Bill to Strengthen Protection from Hate Crimes
Civil and Human Rights Groups and Faith Communities United in Support of Bill

For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Simpson, 202.466.2061, simpson@civilrights.org
April 23, 2009

Washington, DC – Today, the House Judiciary Committee marked up the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, legislation that enhances federal involvement against hate crimes where necessary and authorizes the prosecution of hate crimes based on sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability, in addition to race, color, religion, or national origin.

A wide coalition of national organizations has called for the passage of the LLEHCPA legislation. Leaders in the civil rights, human rights, and faith communities issued the following statements in support of the bill and an expected House vote next week:

"Violence against people because of who they are, where they worship, or the color of their skin, is the antithesis of what we stand for as a nation. Hatred that leads to violence is a matter of fundamental concern to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and its 200-member coalition and we are unified in our support of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act."

Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR)
[Press Contact: Maggie Kao, (202) 466-2735]

"This is legislation that has bipartisan majority support for more than 10 years. It's long past time for congress to act – and the legislation will really help make a difference for hate crimes victims."

Michael Lieberman, Washington Counsel for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
[Press Contact: Todd Gutnick, (212) 885-7755]

"Too many times when heinous crimes are committed against people with disabilities, these offenses either go unreported or unprosecuted as hate crimes, even if the circumstances clearly show the victim was targeted because of a disability. AAPD strongly supports the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, which, if passed, will help protect people with disabilities from those who commit violent, bias-motivated crimes by giving law enforcement resources to investigate and prosecute these crimes."

Andrew Imparato, President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
[Press Contact:  Rebecca Panoff, (202) 508-3783 (V/TTY)]

"The ACLU strongly supports the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act as protecting both civil rights and free speech and association.  We have found in our experience of fighting for stronger protections for civil rights and free speech and association rights that the two go hand in hand. Vigilant protection of free speech rights historically has opened the doors to effective advocacy for expanded civil rights protections."

Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Washington Legislative Office
[Press Contact:  Linda Paris, (202) 715-0804]

"After 10 years, and tens of thousands more victims, this critical legislation combating hate violence is long overdue.  On behalf of the overwhelming majority of the American people, and more than 300 law enforcement, religious and civil rights organizations, we urge Congress not to delay in sending this bill to the President's desk where he has stated he will sign it into law.  We must not miss this opportunity to provide local police and sheriffs' departments with the tools and resources they need to ensure that entire communities are not terrorized by hate violence."

Joe Solmonese, President of Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
[Press Contact: Brad Luna, (202) 216-1514]

"As Jews and Americans committed to social justice, we commend the House Judiciary Committee for swiftly approving the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  Our nation's great strength is built on pluralism and a deep respect for diversity. This critical piece of legislation will better protect all Americans from insidious bias-motivated violence.  These crimes are anathema to our values."

Rabbi Steve Gutow, President of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA)
[Press Contact: Rabinowitz/Dorf, (202) 265-3000]

"The right to be protected and to be safe and free from physical harm or intimidation is the most fundamental of civil and human rights. We urge Congress to quickly pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, legislation that will enhance protections against hate crimes and give local police departments the resources they need to crack down on hate motivated violence."

Benjamin Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP
[Press Contact: Leila McDowell, (202) 463 2940, ext.1005]

"Many communities of color have seen a spike in hate crimes and even though there are laws to protect hate crime victims, some do not go far enough.  This bill would give the federal government jurisdiction to prosecute hate crimes in states where the current law is inadequate and by passing it, Congress can send a strong message that acts of intolerance are unacceptable."

Janet Murguia, President and CEO of the National Council on La Raza (NCLR)
[Press Contact: Marie Watteau, (202) 776-1812]

"It is essential that we make our nation's civil rights laws just and equal for every individual. It is long past time for Congress to make clear that crimes of hate and prejudice will not be tolerated in America."

Nancy Ratzan, President of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW)
[Press Contact: Emily Alfano, (202) 296-2588, ext. 5]

"As Jews, we cherish the biblical commandment found in Leviticus 19:17: "You shall not hate another in your heart." We know all too well the dangers of unchecked persecution and of failing to recognize hate crimes for what they are: acts designed to target and terrorize an entire community. All violent crimes are reprehensible, but hate crimes rend the fabric of society and fragment communities. By providing federal officials the authority to investigate and prosecute cases in which violence occurs because of victims' real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender or disability, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act will significantly strengthen federal response to these horrific crimes."

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
[Press Contact: Kate Bigam, (202) 387-2800]

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