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ADL Welcomes First Senate Hearings on New Federal Hate Crime Law

Calls for 'All Hands on Deck' to Confront Hate Groups and Improve Hate Crime Response

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed Senate hearings on the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) and the state of domestic terrorism. In its statement to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, ADL hailed the Justice Department’s education and enforcement efforts on the HCPA, outlined the nature and magnitude of the threat posed by domestic extremist groups, and called for expanded, coordinated efforts to track and respond to domestic terrorism and improve hate crime data collection efforts.

"The Anti-Defamation League welcomes today's Senate hearings on response to hate violence and the implementation of the HCPA." Said Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The horrible bias-motivated murders of Sikhs in their house of worship in Oak Creek, Wisconsin last month demonstrate, once again, the tragic impact of hate crimes – and the critical importance of partnerships between government and community groups to effectively prevent and respond to domestic extremism and hate crimes. We need all hands on deck to successfully address this issue."

The League’s statement described the main reasons for the resurgence of right-wing extremism in the United States over the past several years, and outlined a number of programmatic recommendations for government officials to confront these threats.

“There will always be political, social, ethnic, religious, or nationalistic movements that have adherents willing to commit violent acts to further their cause or to strike at their perceived enemies." Said Sugarman and Foxman. "In a country our size, even the fringe of the fringe constitutes a significant number of people – and as lessons painfully learned in Oklahoma City in 1995, at Fort Hood in 2009, and in Oak Creek last month demonstrate, it does not take very many people motivated by extremist anger to cause a great deal of harm and misery. We must be ready and able to respond."

The HCPA is the most important, comprehensive, and inclusive hate crime enforcement law in the past 40 years. The law encourages partnerships between state and federal law enforcement officials and also provides limited authority for federal investigations and prosecutions when local authorities are unwilling or unable to act. ADL played a lead role in coordinating advocacy efforts by a broad coalition of civil rights, religious, educational, professional, law enforcement, and civic organizations working in support of the HCPA for more than a decade until its enactment in October, 2009.

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The horrible bias-motivated murders of Sikhs in their house of worship in Oak Creek, Wisconsin last month demonstrate, once again, the tragic impact of hate crimes – and the critical importance of partnerships between government and community groups to effectively prevent and respond to domestic extremism and hate crimes. We need all hands on deck to successfully address this issue.

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