As incidents of hate crimes continue to rise, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to introduce the Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer NO HATE Act. The legislation would improve hate crimes reporting and expand assistance and resources for victims of hate crimes. Companion legislation was introduced by U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA) and Pete Olson (R-TX) in the House of Representatives.
“In 2017, Heather Heyer lost her life fighting the forces of hatred and white supremacy. But since the horrible events in Charlottesville nearly two years ago, we have continued to see an alarming increase in the number of hate crimes across the country,” said Warner. “We owe it to Heather and the victims of hate crimes everywhere to do everything we can to stamp out the voices of hatred that have been promoting violence against Jews, Muslims, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, and other vulnerable Americans.”
“We all need to come together to combat this onslaught of hate crimes. Virginians have seen too many horrific acts of hate, including when white supremacists descended upon Charlottesville and murdered Heather Heyer. Those of us in leadership need to stand up against hate and do everything in our power to support those who are hurt by it,” Kaine said.
“The rise in hate crimes in the United States has reached epidemic proportions in the last few years, and we need law enforcement to have every possible tool to stop it,” said Beyer. “By tracking and reporting incidents of hate crimes nationwide, we can know whether we are making progress towards their prevention. I thank my colleague, Rep. Olson, for his leadership; this legislation has a real chance to move forward.”
“Everyone knows my daughter’s name,” said Susan Bro, Heather Heyer’s mother. “Heather is everywhere—in the news, in our minds, in our hearts—but she’s not in the data, nor are the 35 people who were injured while marching alongside her in Charlottesville. If such a despicable act of hatred is not reflected in hate crime statistics, think of everything else that might be missing. The Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer NO HATE Act is an important bill that will improve our response to hate crime, and I call on Congress to support this effort.”
“After Khalid was killed, our family released a statement expressing that his death was not just another murder to be added to crime statistics, that the circumstances surrounding his death laid bare the need for a better response from law enforcement and the justice system,” said Rami Jabara, Khalid Jabara’s brother. “In retrospect, we shouldn’t have assumed his death would be there reflected in the data, despite how straightforward that may have seemed. Congress must pass the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer NO HATE Act. No family should be subjected to what we endured and victims’ voices should be heard.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported a sharp uptick in reported hate crimes in the fourth quarter of 2016. Researchers have shown that reported hate crimes following President Trump’s election made up the second largest surge since the FBI began collecting data in 1992. Yet the FBI’s annual Hate Crimes Statistics report vastly understates the true incidence of this problem. In 2017, the report reflected that approximately 7,000 hate crimes occurred nationwide, when the SPLC believes the number is closer to approximately 250,000 per year.
The Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer NO HATE Act would help combat the recent surge in hate crimes by:
Improving Reporting of Hate Crimes: This legislation will improve reporting of hate crimes by supporting the implementation of and training for NIBRS, the latest crime reporting standard, in law enforcement agencies without it. This will allow law enforcement agencies to record and report detailed information about crimes, including hate crimes, to the FBI. In 2016, of the 15,254 agencies that participated in reporting hate crimes to the FBI, nearly nine out of 10 reported zero hate crimes; in Mississippi, agencies reported just seven incidents in the entire state. Helping law enforcement agencies recognize and report detailed information on hate crimes and report that data to the FBI will help establish a clear picture of the threats that vulnerable communities are facing across the country.
Encouraging Law Enforcement Prevention, Training, and Education on Hate Crimes: This legislation will provide support to law enforcement agencies that establish a policy on identifying, investigating and reporting hate crimes, train officers on how to identify hate crimes, develop a system for collecting hate crimes data, establish a hate crimes unit within the agency, and engage in community relations to address hate crimes in that jurisdiction.
Establishing Hate Crime Hotlines: This legislation will provide grants for states to establish and run hate crime hotlines, to record information about hate crimes, and to redirect victims and witnesses to law enforcement and local support services as needed. This will make sure that hate crimes don’t go unreported and victims get the help that they need.
Allowing Judges to Require Community Service or Education for Perpetrators of Hate Crimes: This legislation will allow for judges to require individuals convicted under federal hate crime laws to undergo community service or education centered on the community targeted by the crime.
The bill is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union; the Arab American Institute; Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, California State University, San Bernardino; the Heather Heyer Foundation; Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights; the Matthew Shepard Foundation; Muslim Advocates; the National Center for Transgender Equality; the National Disability Rights Network; Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT); and the Sikh Coalition.