Five months after the deadly mass shooting that killed 10 black people and injured three others at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, the Department of Justice recently announced the launch of a new initiative to fight illegal acts of hate in Buffalo.
In coordination with the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the newly created United Against Hate initiative will connect federal, state, and local law enforcement with marginalized communities to “build trust” and build trust. encourage people to report hate crimes and incidents.
“The Department of Justice is committed to pulling together all the resources at its disposal to hold accountable those who engage in unlawful acts of hate,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who oversees the Civil Rights Division. of the Ministry of Justice, in a press release.
The new initiative, which began in Western New York, is a broader effort by the Justice Department that it plans to roll out to all 94 law firms across the United States over the next year.
“This type of race-based hatred is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in this community or in our society,” Trini E. Ross, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, said in a statement.
Not everyone is sure the initiative will work
As part of the initiative’s programming, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will begin engaging with communities in Western New York – in the hopes that deepening community connections will encourage them to report the acts of hatred.
With the national initiative in its infancy, some experts and those in the Buffalo community are still skeptical of the Justice Department’s vision for the initiative.
“I think any kind of program or legislation to deal with hate crimes and in different things is a start,” James Ponzo II, a clinical assistant professor at the University at Buffalo, told NPR.
“But far too often, as we already know, things seem to start but stall and die down,” he added. “Time will tell if it’s really effective or if it’s a publicity stunt.”
For others, like Jalonda Hill, a resident of Buffalo, clarification is needed from officials on how the government classifies certain acts of hate as “hate crimes.”
“For me, it’s kind of weird that a legal system defines what a hate crime is for me. Because for me, I see that a hate crime is just being denied a loan to buy a home – I feel like it’s rooted in hate,” Hill told NPR.
“I see hate crimes as so many different things,” she added.
Some States Are Taking Action Against Rising Hate Crimes
The initiative in Buffalo comes at a time when new bias incident reporting programs are being implemented at the state and federal levels.
In May, the Justice Department announced a series of new guidelines and $10 million in new federal grants to help states develop hotlines for reporting incidents.
Additionally, the Department of Justice released new guidance with the Department of Health and Human Services aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the United States has seen a surge in crimes. of hatred and incidents against Asian, Hawaiian, and Peace-loving Americans. Island communities.
In August, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced new guidelines to support the development of national terrorism prevention plans, pledging $10 million to help counties across the state develop disaster management teams. threat assessment.
And this summer, Maryland officials launched an alert system — the Emmett Till Alerts system — to report racist incidents and acts of hate. Named in honor of the 14-year-old who was abducted, tortured and killed in 1955 after being accused of whistling a white woman, the alert system will act as an alert system if credible threats are made .
Once a hate crime or racist incident is reported, a team of people will determine if an official alert should be sent. These notices will be sent to 167 black elected officials across the state of Maryland, as well as national civil rights organizations, clergy and other leaders.