Broad Coalition Urges Swift Passage of Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act on the Eve of Expected House Vote

For Immediate Release

Broad Coalition Urges Swift Passage of Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act on the Eve of Expected House Vote

Bill Would Strengthen Protections Against Hate Crim

on the eve of an expected House vote on the Local Law Enforcement Hate
Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA), the leaders of several of the nation's
largest civil rights and faith groups held a press conference call to
urge swift passage of the bill that would strengthen protection against
hate crimes.

The LLEHCPA enhances federal involvement in hate crimes cases where
necessary, authorizes the U.S. Justice Department to investigate and
prosecute bias-motivated violence against a person based on actual or
perceived race, color, religion, national origin, and expands
protections to victims who are singled out because of their gender,
sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

The bill also provides the Justice Department with the ability to
aid state and local jurisdictions, either by lending assistance or by
taking the lead in investigations and prosecutions of violent crimes
motivated by bias. The LLEHCPA creates grants for state and local
communities to train law enforcement officers on bias-motivated crimes
and combat violent crimes committed by juveniles.

A wide coalition of national civil rights organizations, faith
groups, and law enforcement organizations has called for the passage of
the LLEHCPA legislation. Leaders from these communities issued the
following statements in support of the bill on the call today:

"A tool such as Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act
could have made it easier to prosecute those who beat Luis Ramirez to
death in Pennsylvania; or the man who bludgeoned teenager Angie Zapata
to death with a fire extinguisher in Colorado; or the pair who robbed,
tortured and left to die, a young man named Matthew Shepard.  On
this call today, we urge swift passage of this important legislation to
prevent these unthinkable acts of hatred and intolerance." - Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) [Press Contact: Maggie Kao, (202) 466-2735]

"State and local authorities investigate and prosecute the
overwhelming majority of hate crime cases.  But this essential
legislation will provide a necessary backstop - by permitting federal
authorities to provide assistance in these hate crime investigations
and by allowing federal prosecutions when state and local authorities
are unable or unwilling to act." - Michael Lieberman, Washington Counsel for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) [Press Contact: Todd Gutnick, (212) 885-7755]

"People with disabilities, especially those with mental
disabilities, are often singled out for bias-motivated violence and
harassment, and the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act
will provide a critical tool to fight back against this despicable
behavior and its impact on our community. We urge Congress to pass this
legislation that will encourage more people with disabilities to report
these crimes to law enforcement, and show that these acts of violence
will not be tolerated." - Andrew Imparato, President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) [Press Contact:  Rebecca Panoff, (202) 508-3783 (V/TTY)]

"Not only does the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act
of 2009 protect civil rights, it also protects free speech and
association.  This bill will have the strongest protection against the
misuse of a person's free speech that Congress has enacted in the
federal criminal code." - Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Washington Legislative Office [Press Contact:  Linda Paris, (202) 715-0804]

"Seventy-five percent of all Americans regardless of their race,
religion or political affiliation support this legislation. They
understand that the time to get this legislation to the president's
desk is long overdue. Now is the time for Congress to again pass this
bill and for President Obama to sign it into law.  Ten
years after the bill's introduction, local jurisdictions continue to
need the additional resources necessary to prosecute the hate violence
that spreads fear and panic throughout entire communities. State and
local agencies must be given the tools they need to investigate and
prosecute bias-motivated crimes." - Joe Solmonese, President of Human Rights Campaign (HRC) [Press Contact: Brad Luna, (202) 216-1514]

"We need to strengthen existing hate crimes laws because hate crimes
are such a unique offense; they are an attack not just on individuals
but an attempt to terrorize and demoralize entire communities.  Existing policies are inadequate, as too many African Americans are aware.  Even
though we make up just over 14 percent of the population, we are the
subjects of roughly 60 percent of reported hate crimes.  The
bill we are about to consider will provide local law enforcement units
with much-needed additional resources to help address, and hopefully
reduce, these heinous crimes." - Hilary O. Shelton, Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau [Press Contact: Chris Fleming, (202) 463-2940, ext.1021]

"The Latino community is committed to working with all groups to
monitor incidents of hate crimes and hate rhetoric, to urge
policymakers and the media to cease resorting to bias and bigotry, and
to increase tolerance and understanding among all communities." - Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the National Council on La Raza (NCLR) [Press Contact: Marie Watteau, (202) 776-1812]

"As a Jew, I know all too well the
history of my people as victims of ethnic hatred, of discrimination, of
violence. As an American, I know that overcoming such hatred,
discrimination, and violence is difficult - but entirely possible.  And
it's possible if we take steps like those outlined in the vital
legislation we come together to support." - Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism [Press Contact: Kate Bigam, (202) 387-2800]


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