Support grows for new hate crime reporting bill

Religion News Service | 7/4/2019, 6 a.m.
Nearly three years ago, Khalid Jabara, an immigrant from Lebanon, died on his own doorstep in Tulsa, Okla., when his ...

One Associated Press report found that, between 2009 and 2014, about 17 percent of all city and county law enforcement agencies did not submit a single hate crime report.

Reporting by state and local law enforcement is voluntary. The proposed bill would not change that but would fund state hate crime hotlines; permit judges to mandate that perpetrators undergo community service or education focused on the targeted communities; and support law enforcement agencies’expansion of prevention, reporting and training programs.

In particular, the bill would support implementation and training for the National Incident-Based Reporting System for law enforcement agencies that are not yet using it, which would streamline reporting hate crimes to the FBI.

The legislation would help observers understand “systemic underpinnings of hate violence and institute more effective ways to mandate hate crime data collection,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, who leads South Asian Americans Leading Together.

Her organization, which worked with Mr. Jabara’s and Ms. Heyer’s families to advocate for the bill, has documented close to 500 incidents of hate violence against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab communities in the United

States since November 2015. “Every level of government must be held accountable for addressing the spike in hate violence aimed at our communities,” Ms. Sridaran said. “Data drives policy,” Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League, said in his statement. “Better data collection and training would help allocate police resources and expand communication with targeted communities. Studies have shown that more comprehensive hate crime reporting can deter hate violence and advance police-community relations.”

The country’s inconsistent hate crime laws have particularly come under fire across the country after the triple murder of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, N.C., which local police have since apologized for characterizing as a parking dispute, as well as the fatal shooting of a Muslim man in Indiana, one of five states without a hate crimes statute, which police called an act of road rage.