Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch released a video statement today on the FBI’s newly announced 2015 hate crime statistics as well as on recent media reports of alleged hate crimes and harassment around the country. The statement reminds individuals to report these incidents to both local law enforcement and the Justice Department in order to ensure that career investigators and prosecutors are able to enforce hate crime statutes at the local, state and federal level.
The video can be viewed here, and a transcript of the video is below:
“Earlier this week, the FBI released its statistics on hate crimes committed in 2015. These numbers should be deeply sobering for all Americans. Among other alarming trends, the report showed a 67 percent increase in hate crimes committed against Muslim Americans. It also showed increases in the number of hate crimes committed against Jewish people, African Americans, and LGBT individuals. Overall, the number of reported hate crimes increased six percent – a number that does not account for the many hate crimes that may go unreported out of shame or fear.
“Beyond these 2015 statistics, I know that many Americans are concerned by a spate of recent news reports about alleged hate crimes and harassment. Some of these incidents have happened in schools. Others have targeted houses of worship. And some have singled out individuals for attacks and intimidation. The FBI is assessing, in conjunction with federal prosecutors, whether particular incidents constitute violations of federal law. We need you to continue to report these incidents to local law enforcement, as well as the Justice Department, so that our career investigators and prosecutors can take action to defend your rights. You can find information about federal hate crimes laws – and other civil rights laws that the department enforces, including protections for students in schools – on our Civil Rights Division’s website. Our site also contains resources for communities working to prevent and respond to hate crimes, as well.
“Last month marked the seventh anniversary of one of those laws: the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This landmark statute was named for two men who were killed for the most un-American of reasons – because they were different from their attackers – Matthew Shepard in his sexual orientation, and James Byrd Jr. in his race. The law that bears their names significantly expanded our ability to combat hate crimes by adding new federal protections against crimes based on one’s gender identity, sexual orientation, gender, or disability status – protections that we have worked tirelessly to uphold in the last seven years.
“But despite the tremendous progress we have made, we cannot lose sight of how much remains to be done. Nearly two decades after Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. were brutally murdered simply for being who they were, we still have a long way to go to ensure that every American can live free from the fear of violence or harassment based what they look like, how they worship, or whom they love.
“That work is not just about enforcing the law. It’s about staying true to our highest ideals and most cherished principles. It’s about making sure that all Americans receive the protection of the law. And it’s about giving real meaning to our shared belief that all people are created equal.
“Put simply, this work is the right – and just – thing to do. And I want the American people to know that as long as that work is necessary, the Department of Justice will continue to carry it forward. We will continue to enforce our nation’s hate crimes laws to the fullest extent possible. We will continue to uphold our conviction that all men and women deserve to lead lives of safety and dignity. And we will continue to champion the values of diversity and inclusion that have always been the bedrock of our nation’s progress, and that point the way to a brighter future. Thank you.”