|RICHMOND (April 13, 2021) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today has joined a bipartisan coalition of 35 attorneys general in urging Congress to pass the bipartisan Jabara-Heyer No Hate Act, which would provide state and local governments and law enforcement agencies with the tools and resources to understand, identify, and report hate crimes and, as a result, help prevent them.
“For years I have been sounding the alarm on the rise of hate and white supremacist violence in Virginia and around the country. Hate crimes are designed to strike fear in entire groups of people and just one act of violence tears at the very fabric of our communities,” said Attorney General Herring. “In my ongoing work to combat hate crimes, I have learned that underreporting is a serious roadblock to helping vulnerable communities and preventing more hate crimes from occurring. Increasing the funding to improve hate crimes reporting would help law enforcement better protect Virginia’s more vulnerable communities.”
The legislation specifically aims to help rectify inaccurate and incomplete data by providing federal grants to improve hate crimes reporting. The grants would be used to train employees on identifying, classifying, and reporting hate crimes in the FBI’s national database; assist with states’ development of programs to prevent hate crimes; increase community education around hate crimes; and create state-run hate crime hotlines.
As Attorney General Herring and his colleagues write in their letter: “For more than two decades, thousands of city, county, college and university, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies have voluntarily submitted hate crimes data to the FBI. However, based on the FBI’s 2019 report, most law enforcement agencies did not participate or reported zero incidents. Exacerbating this gap, less than 25% of law enforcement agencies are using the FBI’s current reporting system, which took effect this year. This lack of data creates critical gaps that inhibit our understanding of the hate problem. As the chief legal officers of our respective jurisdictions and states, improving hate crimes reporting is a priority. Without reliable statistics, the government cannot properly understand, investigate, and prosecute hate crimes or provide necessary resources to survivors.”
For years Attorney General Herring has been raising awareness of the threat of white supremacist violence and proposing new laws to keep Virginians safe. Attorney General Herring’s proposed bills would update the Commonwealth’s hate crime and domestic terrorism laws, protect Virginians from violence and intimidation by hate groups and white supremacists, and make it harder for hate groups and white supremacists to threaten, intimidate, or hurt Virginians with firearms.
In addition to his legislative proposals, Attorney General Herring launched NoHateVA.com to give vulnerable communities more information and resources to protect themselves from hate crime and white supremacist violence. Last month, Attorney General Herring updated NoHateVA.com dedicating it to focus exclusively on the rise of anti-Asian hate, abuse, discrimination, and violence that has coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joining Attorney General Herring in sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of Alaska, American Samoa, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, N. Mariana Islands, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.