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
Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America 2009. LCCR Education Fund.


Hate crimes merit a priority response because of their special impact on the victim and the victim's community. 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 cannot be measured solely in terms of physical injury or dollars and cents. Hate crimes may effectively intimidate other members of the victim's community, leaving them feeling isolated, vulnerable, and unprotected by the law. Moreover, the demonization of immigrants has led to an increased sense of vulnerability and fear in communities around the country and created a toxic environment in which hateful rhetoric targeting immigrants has become routine — and bias-motivated violence all too common.

Every sector of society has an important role to play in helping to ensure that no person is targeted for violence on the basis of his or her personal characteristics. We offer the following recommendations for action:

Set The Tone For A Civil National Discourse On Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Civil rights organizations have become increasingly concerned about the virulent anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric employed by a handful of groups and coalitions that have positioned themselves as legitimate, mainstream advocates against illegal immigration in America. Leaders from every sector — including government, media, business, labor, religion, and education — have an essential role in shaping attitudes in opposition to all forms of bigotry. These leaders must moderate the rhetoric in the immigration debate. It is vital that civic leaders and law enforcement officials speak out against efforts to demonize immigrants — and use their bully pulpits to promote better intergroup relations. They must use their power of persuasion and political clout to condemn scapegoating, bias crimes, racism, and other hate speech and hate crimes, and to press for fair and workable immigration reform.

Ensure A Strong Law Enforcement Response To Confront Violent Bigotry

Although bigotry cannot be legislated out of existence, a forceful, moral response to hate violence is required of us all. Enactment of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act will give local law enforcement officials important tools to combat violent, bias-motivated crimes, and facilitate federal investigations and prosecutions when local authorities are unwilling or unable to achieve a just result. Importantly, the LLEHCPA would also amend the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990 to mandate additional Justice Department hate crime data collection reporting requirements for bias-motivated violence directed at individuals on the basis of their gender and gender identity, and for crimes committed by and against juveniles.

Complement Tough Laws And Vigorous Enforcement With Education And Training Initiatives Designed To Reduce Prejudice

The federal government has a central role to play in funding anti-bias education and hate crime prevention initiatives, as well as promoting awareness of effective anti-bias education initiatives. The Justice Department, the Department of Education, and other involved federal agencies should institutionalize and coordinate their response to prejudice-motivated violence and fund programs and initiatives developed for schools and for youth violence prevention programs. The federal government should make information available regarding effective hate crime prevention programs and resources, successful anti-bias training initiatives, and best practices. The FBI should receive funding to update and expand training and outreach to ensure the most comprehensive implementation of the Hate Crime Statistics Act.

Next Section: Selected Resources on Hate Crime Response and Counteraction

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