2nd Lt. Richard Collins, III – Rep. Al Green – NMAAHC
CBC Urges DOJ, DHS, FBI to Invest More Resources in Hate Crime Investigations, Prosecute to “Fullest Extent of the Law”
WASHINGTON – Today, the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-La.), made public his request that the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI dedicate more resources to investigating hate crimes and prosecuting these crimes to the “fullest extent of the law.” In a letter to agency leaders, the CBC cited data from the Southern Poverty Law Center showing nearly 1,100 hate-related incidents across the nation during the 34 days after the 2016 election, as well as several recent hate crimes, including the murder of an African-American service member and college student, threats of lynching directed at a CBC member, and nooses hanging at two federally funded museums.
“Instead of working overtime to put more minorities in jail, Attorney General Sessions needs to direct more DOJ resources toward investigating and prosecuting hate crimes against African Americans and other minority communities,” Chairman Richmond said. “‘Make America Great Again’ and other rhetoric from then-candidate Trump and his campaign have resulted in a more dangerous and deadly environment for far too many Americans, and now it is up to the Trump Administration to take seriously its role to protect civil rights and our national security from the threat of domestic terrorists.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, in the 34 days after the election there were 1,094 incidents involving bias and 37 percent of them directly referenced President-elect Trump, his campaign slogan, or his remarks about sexual assault against women. These incidents occurred in cities and states across the nation, and include 13 incidents that occurred in the nation’s capital. More information, including state-by-state data, can be found here. There have also been a number of recent incidents involving bias, including several that are being investigated as hate crimes.
On May 20, 2nd Lt. Richard Collins, III, a 23-year-old African-American servicemember and college student, was stabbed to death by a 22-year-old white supremacist near a University of Maryland bus stop. Around the same time, U.S. Congressman Al Green (D-Texas) began receiving office voicemails from callers who threatened to lynch him and called him the N-word and other racial slurs for calling for President Trump’s impeachment. Finally, on June 3, tourists found a noose hanging in an exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Another noose was hung a few days before at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Letter below, attached, and online here.
June 7, 2017
Dear Attorney General Sessions, Secretary Kelly, and Acting Director McCabe:
I write today to express my concern over the alarming number of hate crimes reported across the country, particularly in the wake of the election of President Donald J. Trump last fall. In addition to speaking out against this rising tide of hate, violence, and intolerance, is critical that your agencies proactively investigate each and every incident of a potential hate crime and aggressively prosecute each case to the fullest extent of the law.
During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump employed starkly divisive rhetoric to connect with a segment of his base that relished in cultural grievance and hatred. His tone and the arguments that he made were incredibly offensive to minority communities and his campaign rallies were forums for some of the ugliest public displays of race-based violence and animus in modern political times. Numerous Black Americans were assaulted at his rallies and scenes of deep racial resentment against Blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, and Muslims were frequently paraded and celebrated.
Since the election, it seems hate-filled individuals have been emboldened to terrorize minority communities. In just the first 34 days after the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center counted a total of 1,094 bias incidents around the nation. Disturbingly, the Center also calculated that 37 percent of these cases directly referenced either President-elect Trump, his campaign slogans, or his infamous remarks about sexual assault. This data is just from the immediate aftermath of the election. The numbers have increased since then, with national news providing coverage. These are not isolated incidents, but rather a frightening trend forming before our eyes.
In fact, this is occurring in Congress’ own back yard, like the horrific hate crime that took place just a few miles away at the University of Maryland when Richard Collins III, a promising young man, was stabbed to death on the eve of his graduation from Bowie State University by an admitted white supremacist. There have also been several reports of nooses hung throughout the District of Columbia, including in the African American Museum of History and Culture and on American University’s campus. To add insult to injury, a Mississippi lawmaker recently called for Louisiana politicians to be “lynched” for supporting the removal of racist confederate monuments from New Orleans.
Surely there is no greater cause of a government than to protect the lives of its citizens, particularly those uniquely vulnerable to hate, intolerance, and violence. The federal hate crimes statutes were designed with that mission in mind and serve as a critically important tool in combatting the most insidious elements of our society. That is why I implore you to dedicate additional resources within your respective agencies to address the increasing frequency of these deplorable acts. You should and must investigate each and every potential hate crime and prosecute offenders to the fullest extent allowed under the law. You should also ensure that community leaders, including state and local law enforcement, understand the federal resources available to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.
Your leadership is required to not only bring justice to the victims of hate crimes, but also to send a clear message that these acts of domestic terrorism will never be tolerated in this country.
Chair, Congressional Black Caucus