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March 06, 2013

U.S. Should Expand Hate Crime Reporting among other Efforts to Combat Hatred

Washington, DC – On the heels of a Southern Poverty Law Center report detailing record high levels of hate groups, Human Rights First draws attention to the need for further steps by the government to respond to violent hate crimes – one of the manifestations of the hatred that such groups espouse. An expansion of the FBI’s voluntary program to document and report on hate crime incidents to encompass a greater number of police jurisdictions would be an important step to better understanding the real level of hate crime violence in the United States.

“Today’s Southern Poverty Law Center report is a reminder that the government must be better prepared to monitor and respond to violent incidents that stem from hate and fear,” said Human Rights First’s Paul LeGendre. “While the current FBI reporting is important, it hardly provides an full and accurate picture of where we are as a nation. Far too many U.S. police departments do not monitor or report on hate crime incidents in their jurisdictions, leaving a significant data deficit that hampers efforts to respond to hatred and violence. That must change in the coming years.”

LeGendre notes that the United States must also protect civil rights as it combats hatred. Other countries often trample on human rights and civil liberties as they combat intolerance. The United States should identify other ways to confront hatred, using methods that protect freedom of expression and other core American values.

“Today’s report and our nation’s ongoing efforts to stem hatred, including violence, have ramifications beyond U.S. borders. The world is watching how we respond to these domestic problems. If we fail to stand up for those most in need of our protection, while also respecting the rights of our citizens, we will have little room to criticize others for failing to do the same,” LeGendre concluded.

For more information about hate crime or to speak with LeGendre, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3323.