All of the states, with the exception of Nebraska, South Carolina, and Wyoming,81
and including the District of Columbia, have passed some form of hate crime statute. These laws have come in a variety of forms, including:
In addition, some states have gone further by enacting statutes that "enhance" criminal penalties for hate-motivated crimes.
On the local level, there is good news -but there are also indications of gaps in the monitoring of hate crimes.
It is heartening that a growing number of law enforcement agencies are participating in data-collection under the Hate Crime Statistics Act. Almost 9,600 agencies participated in 1995 -an increase over the number of agencies that reported in 1994. But this still represents far fewer than the 16,000 agencies that regularly report other crime data to the FBI under the Bureau's Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
Another encouraging development is the founding of special bias units in a growing number of cities, including New York. (While creating the New York City unit was a positive step, there are still problems with under-reporting of hate crimes and police-community relations.) Officers in these squads are specially trained to be sensitive to victims of bias crimes. When victims find that police are sympathetic, they are more likely to report hate crimes and cooperate with investigations and prosecutions. And they make better witnesses at trials.
Successful bias units develop working relationships with minority communities, with prosecutors, and with officers from different law enforcement agencies. This helps law enforcement agencies at every level prevent, investigate, and prosecute hate crimes.
Yet another hopeful sign is the growing number of local governments that are sponsoring community education programs to reduce prejudice of all kinds and discourage hate crimes. In 1993, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Anti-Defamation League found that 72 cities -42% of those that responded to the survey -indicated that they sponsored or participated in local prejudice reduction programs.82
In response to the outbreak of church arsons, three governors of southern and border states, James Hunt of North Carolina, David Beasley of South Carolina, and Don Sundquist of Tennessee, have set up commissions to examine and improve race relations.
Civil rights, religious, civic, educational, and business organizations have long played a leading role in combating bigotry and crimes motivated by bias.
For instance, since 1992, the Leadership Conference Education Fund (LCEF) has been conducting an informational campaign in partnership with the Advertising Council to promote interracial understanding and combat bigotry of all kinds.83 The campaign includes public service announcements in English and Spanish, with the message:"Life's too short. Stop the hate." These TV and radio announcements were developed by the Mingo Group, a black-owned and managed advertising agency.
In addition, with a contribution from the Procter and Gamble Fund, the LCEF is developing programs targeted to children to promote understanding and celebrate our diversity. With the Advertising Council and the Griffin Bacal agency, the LCEF developed the "Don't Be Afraid, Be a Friend" campaign to encourage children to make friends across racial, ethnic and disability lines and not to respond to the differences among people with fear and hate. The "Don't Be Afraid, Be a Friend" campaign has received more than $20 million of free television air time. In keeping with the children's theme, LCEF's new public service announcement, targeted at children 4-7 years of age, is based on a poem, "The Crayon Box that Talked," written by the President of Random House Entertainment.
In addition to the partnership with the Advertising Council, the LCEF has worked with Nickelodeon, the children's cable television station, to produce vignettes on diversity and tolerance. The spots feature children of varied racial and ethnic backgrounds and a child in a wheelchair talking about diversity, getting to know each other, and how they would like to be perceived. And the LCEF has also developed a brochure for parents on why it is important to talk to children about racism, prejudice, and diversity.
Similarly, the Anti-Defamation League has developed a number of hate crime training resources that are available to communities and law enforcement officials. These include a new comprehensive guide to hate crime laws, a seventeen-minute training video on the impact of hate crime and appropriate responses (prepared in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety), and a handbook of existing hate crime policies and procedures at large and small police departments.
Meanwhile, the ADL's A World of Difference Institute has developed prejudice reduction initiatives for use by educators, employers, and civic leaders. These programs help people develop the skills, sensitivity, and knowledge to combat bigotry and encourage understanding and respect among diverse groups, from classrooms, to communities and workplaces.
Another program dedicated to prejudice reduction is the American Jewish Committee's Hands Across the Campus program. In place in 15 cities and approximately 150 public and private schools, the program includes administrative, teacher and student training and lesson plans and student activities for use in English and social studies classes.
People for the American Way's STAR (Students Talk About Race) Program trains college volunteers to lead discussions in high school and middle school classrooms to provide a forum for youth to share their personal thoughts and experiences, to reflect on complex issues like prejudice and citizen responsibility, and to learn the value of tolerance in today's society.
In addition to the Southern Poverty Law Center's legal work against hate groups, its Teaching Tolerance project provides training and curriculum materials for teachers including the Teaching Tolerance Magazine. The Center has just established a Teaching Tolerance Institute that will bring together for the first time in the summer of 1997, 30, K-12 teachers for intensive training in tolerance and the development of tolerance-related action plans for their schools and communities.
This year, public outrage over the arsons of black churches has prompted renewed efforts to promote racial reconciliation. Private citizens, businesses, religious and civic groups have raised more than $10 million to help small congregations rebuild their church buildings. In other gestures of support, bankers have offered low-interest loans and individuals have offered to help rebuild the churches themselves.84
The National Council of Churches has played a leading role in bringing Americans together to heal their differences and rebuild the churches. The council's general secretary, Joan Brown Campbell, said: "For the first time in almost 20 years, I see...the possibility of a partnership of white people, African-Americans, of Christians, Jews, and Muslims...I sense the possibility of a new coalition that wants to address the underlying issue of racism and bigotry."85
The Center for Democratic Renewal in collaboration with the National Council of Churches and Center for Constitutional Rights conducted a six-month preliminary investigation of the church burnings and issued the results of their investigation in Black Church Burnings in the South.86 These organizations and others, including LCEF and LCCR, co-hosted a leadership summit on hate crimes, Challenging Hate in America, in Atlanta in December 1996.
Four leading human rights groups have launched a new initiative, "Bigotry Watch," to monitor and respond to acts of intolerance of all kinds throughout the nation. The effort's sponsors are the National Urban League, the Anti-Defamation League, the National Council of La Raza, and the National Conference. These groups have also called for a national conference on "pluralism."
In a corporate effort to advance interracial understanding, the Levi Strauss Foundation is contributing more than $5 million to Project Change, designed to help communities reduce racial prejudice and promote harmony. It has programs in Knoxville, Tenn., Valdosta, Ga., Albuquerque and El Paso. And Levi-Strauss Chief Executive Officer Robert Haas is meeting with fellow CEOs and asking them to "step up to the plate" on race relations.
On another front, the National Task Force on Violence Against Women, a coalition of over 1700 organizations, chaired by the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund with the strong support of the National Organization for Women, has been instrumental in gaining national recognition of the problem of violence against women. This coalition helped pass the Violence Against Women Act and its groundbreaking civil rights remedy for gender-based hate crimes. Now, the coalition is monitoring federal support and implementation of the law.