Thank you to my representative, Don Beyer, for this essential legislation (of course, good luck getting the Republican Congress to pass it, but still good stuff…).
Following a sharp rise in hate crimes across the country, Representative Don Beyer introduced the National Observations of Hate, Assaults, and Threats to Equality (NO HATE) Act to improve federal data on hate crimes.
“In the current climate, reducing hate crimes must be an imperative for every police department in the United States,” said Rep. Don Beyer. “Only by accurately tracking hate crimes can we know whether we are making progress towards their prevention.”
Hate crime reporting is deeply flawed due to underreporting or complete lack of reporting by local law enforcement. Rep. Beyer’s bill would aim to fill those gaps by requiring the Justice Department to ensure localities receiving federal funding are credibly reporting hate crimes. The bill is supported by the Anti-Defamation League, Human Rights Campaign, Southern Poverty Law Center, and other civil liberties organizations.
“We support Rep. Beyer’s legislative initiative to connect federal funding to credible participation in the HCSA program,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. “Data drives policy. Communities cannot know the nature and magnitude of the threat hate violence poses unless their police department is actively tracking them, training their officers to identify them, and reporting to the FBI and state officials on these specially-impactful criminal acts.”
“With the spike in bias-motivated violence and harassment across the country, the need to address the crisis of anti-LGBTQ hate is more urgent than ever,” said David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director. “Without a clearer picture of the full scope of this problem, our policymakers, elected officials, and law enforcement are deprived of the necessary tools to fully combat this epidemic. The No Hate Act is a necessary fix to our data-reporting requirements and we applaud Rep. Beyer for working to fill this significant hole in our nation’s ability to address this often deadly violence.”
Over 3,000 law enforcement agencies do not report hate crimes to the FBI, creating gaps in data on hate crimes which include major metropolitan areas such as Miami, Portland, or Orlando as well as the majority of the localities in the states of Mississippi and Louisiana.
“Hate crimes are woefully underreported nationwide and have been for decades,” said Heidi Beirich, Director of Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project. “Without accurate statistics, we can’t even understand the full scope of the problem we face in terms of hate violence. This is particularly important now as the Southern Poverty Law Center continues to see a rise in reported hate incidents after the election, especially those targeting immigrants, the LGBT community, Muslims and Jewish and black community members alike. This important legislation brings critical attention to the need for all states and local officials to accurately report hate crimes.”
FBI Director James Comey previously said that “we need to do a better job of tracking and reporting hate crimes to fully understand what is happening in our communities and how to stop it.”
The full text of the NO HATE Act can be read here.