The Justice Department announced Thursday that it will provide more than $21 million to help law enforcement agencies investigate and prosecute hate crimes.
DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) will award money to help state, local, tribal agencies, and community organizations address crimes committed on the basis of race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.
Hate crimes in the U.S. this year are on pace to surpass even the spike in 2020 — and many of them are linked to religious bigotry, Axios reported.
The number of hate crimes reported in 2020 was the highest since 2001, when the U.S. experienced a surge of Islamophobia after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according FBI statistics.
"Hate crimes instill fear across entire communities. They have profoundly negative and unacceptable effects on our society," Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a release announcing the funding.
"The department is committed to using all tools at our disposal to combat unlawful acts of hate. These awards will provide state, local and tribal agencies additional support and critical resources to address hate crimes and their far-reaching effects."
The announcement came on the 12th anniversary of the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Shepard, a gay man, and Byrd, a Black man, were killed over their sexuality and race in separate incidents.
The OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) plans to start a new program in honor of the two men to help improve investigations and prosecutions into hate crimes.
Through the Shepard-Byrd solicitation and the related Collaborative Responses to Hate Crimes program that seeks to address precipitous increases in hate crimes, BJA will award $8.4 million in site-based funding and training and technical assistance.
BJA also will award $1.5 million under the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016 to help solve cold case civil rights murders that occurred before 1980.
"Acts of violence and destruction motivated by hate and bias cause lasting harm to victims, terrorize entire communities and divide our nation, leaving deep scars and stalling the march toward equal justice," Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Justice Programs Amy L. Solomon said.
"We must work together to bridge the gaps of empathy, root out intolerance in all its forms and send a clear message that the future belongs to every American, no matter what they look like, how they worship and whom they love."
The OJP’s Office for Victims of Crime will spend $2 million on communities that have been affected by hate crime, and the department’s National Institute of Justice has given $7.5 million "to support research designed to develop a better understanding of the phenomenon known as domestic radicalization and to advance evidence-based strategies for preventing and intervening in acts of domestic terrorism," according to the DOJ release.
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