By: Follow South Jersey Staff
SOUTH JERSEY – An anti-hate crime outreach program entitled United Against Hate has been announced by U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger on Wednesday, April 20.
The anti-hate crime initiative seeks to directly connect federal, state, and local law enforcement with traditionally marginalized communities in order to build trust and encourage the reporting of hate crimes and hate incidents, according to a press release from the agency.
“Hate crimes and discrimination are antithetical to the core principles underlying our democracy,” Sellinger said. “No one should ever be subject to acts of discrimination or hate because of where they are from, what they look like, whom they love, or how they worship. In response to a dramatic increase in hate crimes and hate incidents, we are launching the United Against Hate Initiative in New Jersey. Combatting hate crimes, hate incidents, and discrimination is core to our mission, and through dynamic outreach and prevention efforts, we are eager to take steps to combat hate beyond prosecution.”
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said that the collaboration among agencies will strengthen efforts to fight hate crimes in the state.
“The U.S. Department of Justice continues to marshal all resources at its disposal to hold people who engage in unlawful, bias-motivated acts of hate accountable,” Clarke said. “Through United Against Hate, we are bringing together the Justice Department, local law enforcement, and community leaders to strengthen our overall efforts to combat hate crimes and prevent hate incidents. Our communities, schools, workplaces and homes are all safer when we stand unified in the fight against hate.”
FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Terence Reilly said that hate crimes occurring in New Jersey can affect people nationally.
“The ripple effect of hate crimes is felt hundreds, even thousands of miles away,” Reilly said. “People who identify with those victims see themselves and wonder ‘will it happen here?’ and ‘Will I be next?’ The Constitution of the United States grants us many freedoms. When any one of those freedoms – or any other constitutional right – is threatened or violated, we have to respond. And when I say ‘we,’ I’m not speaking just as a member of the FBI. I’m speaking as a member of the community. Because if we don’t respond, we risk the erosion of our very identity as a nation. That’s why the FBI embarked on a hate crimes awareness campaign last year. We want people to call us if they have witnessed or been subjected to a hate crime.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey was chosen as one of three districts, out of 94 districts in the nation, to advance the United Against Hate outreach initiative. The U.S. Attorney’s Office plans to engage with communities across New Jersey to deepen connections with those communities, further hate crimes prevention efforts, and encourage more people to report hate crimes and hate incidents.
Last month, U.S. Attorney Sellinger announced the creation of a Civil Rights Division within the U.S. Attorney’s Office. This new division, which enforces both civil and criminal civil rights laws, will engage with local community members, advocacy groups, and other federal and state agencies to protect civil rights. The division will lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s efforts in implementing the United Against Hate initiative.
Members of the public may report possible civil rights violations through the https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/civil-rights-enforcement or may call the U.S. Attorney’s Civil Rights Hotline at (855) 281-3339.
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