The United States of America is a nation founded on principles of liberty and justice for all.  We treasure our freedom, our commitment to equality, and our democratic values. That freedom, however, does not extend to violence. Nor should it be used for hate and discrimination.

For decades, America’s mayors have taken a strong position in support of civil rights and in opposition to racism and discrimination of all kinds. In the 59 years since the murder of Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four young girls, and the March on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., many mayors have spoken out against discrimination and injustice when they have occurred and have undertaken efforts to combat racism and build respect for and inclusion of all peoples within their communities.

Today, however, we continue to be challenged. We are seeing shocking instances of hate and violent extremism occur throughout our nation, in cities like Buffalo, Atlanta, El Paso, Pittsburgh, Charlottesville and Charleston, and in many more.  Increasingly, these acts of hate-fueled violence pose a dire threat to our democracy, our civic life, and our freedoms.

We are seeing efforts, particularly in our states, to weaken existing civil rights policies and reduce their enforcement, suppress voting, and restrict what can be taught in our schools or housed in our libraries. We have seen a surge of extremist threats targeting election officials and workers, law enforcement and the judiciary, journalists, medical and public health professionals and educators. We have seen an increase in hate-based violence, harassment, xenophobic rhetoric, and discriminatory actions that target Black and Brown people, Asian Americans, Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ+ individuals, and others. We will not permit those acts of bias to define our cities and succeed in their aim of sowing division and discord.

Mayors and their cities must continue to serve as beacons for equity and inclusion for all. Mayors must continue to create communities where hate has no safe harbor, where hate-fueled violence is prevented, and where all people are safe and free and expect our federal and state partners to join us in this endeavor. 

The United States Conference of Mayors and the Anti-Defamation League are renewing the initiative they launched in 2017 to fight hate, extremism and bigotry and to promote the fundamental principles of justice and equality for which America strives.

The Mayors’ Compact Against Hate, Extremism and Bigotry has 10 key components:

1. Expressly rejecting extremism, racism, and all forms of bigotry

Mayors will use the bully pulpit to speak out against racism, extremism, xenophobia, and all forms of bigotry, and those who espouse such ideologies. Mayors will promote community conversations around these issues as needed.

2. Denouncing all acts of hate wherever they occur

Mayors will publicly denounce specific acts of hate, support efforts to address bias-motivated violence, and provide comfort and assistance to victims of hate crimes and discrimination whether the act occurs online or offline.

3. Ensuring public safety while protecting free speech and other basic constitutional rights

Mayors will protect public safety while safeguarding free speech and other basic constitutional rights through the use of appropriate time, place, and manner restrictions. This might include encouraging alternative rally sites and placing limits on the rights of protestors to bring weapons to rallies.

4. Calling for fully resourced law enforcement and civil rights investigations of domestic terrorism and hate crimes

Mayors will work to ensure that local police departments have the financial resources necessary to prevent, respond to, and investigate domestic terrorism and hate crimes, and work with federal authorities when appropriate to ensure that the interests of justice are served. They will also work to build trust between law enforcement and communities affected by hate and extremism, so that people in those communities have access to justice when they are the victims of crime.

5. Elevating and prioritizing anti-bias and anti-hate programs in our nation's schools

Mayors will encourage schools to provide and enhance civics education and anti-bias and anti-hate content in their curricula and extra-curricular activities. Anti-hate organizations such as ADL have materials and training programs that can help educators, parents, and other community leaders to mitigate hate online, in schools, or in other public spaces.

6. Supporting communities and bringing together civic and community leaders to build trust

To prevent hate-fueled violence, mayors will invest in bridge-building activities to build civic bonds across lines of difference. Mayors will reach out proactively to civil rights leaders, clergy, and other community leaders to engage and actively involve them in efforts to build trust across neighborhood and community lines and minimize tensions.

7. Celebrating diversity, fostering inclusivity and challenging bias

Mayors will encourage community activities that celebrate diversity and educate city residents about the different cultures that compose a city’s population, and work with creative partners to use various electronic and print media outlets to promote public messages fostering inclusivity and challenging bias. Mayors also will support implicit bias training for local elected officials, city employees, and business leaders to help combat institutional racism.

8. Promoting professional development for law enforcement on responding to and reporting hate incidents, hate crimes, and domestic terrorism

Mayors will encourage their police departments to participate in workshops offered by ADL and others that address how to identify and respond to hate incidents, hate crimes, and domestic terrorism. Members will also encourage the collection of data on such crimes and the reporting of this data to the FBI. 

9. Encouraging residents in their communities to report hate incidents and crimes, including using hotlines and outline tools

Mayors will encourage residents – both victims and witnesses – to report hate crimes to local authorities and/or community-based organizations and provide the tools as possible and appropriate to facilitate such reporting, including hotlines and online tools.

10. Maintaining civil rights enforcement and improving hate crime laws when necessary

Mayors will work with executive and legislative partners at the federal and state levels to ensure that civil rights laws are improved and enforced, existing hate crime laws are strengthened as needed, and new rights-protecting laws are enacted to help deter and seek justice for acts of hate and extremism. When appropriate, municipal officials and community members should be encouraged and informed as to how to use civil litigation to deter harm and hold individuals and groups responsible for hateful and violent extremist actions.