The Department of Justice on Friday announced new initiatives to address and prevent hate crimes in the United States.
Justice Department officials are calling the rise in hate crimes a crisis.
“We know the threats we take are evolving and our strategies to confront them must involve, as well,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Garland announced the Department of Justice is releasing $5 million for states to establish hotlines to report hate crimes as concerns heighten about racially-motivated violence.
Garland’s announcement comes days after 10 Black people were allegedly targeted in a Buffalo grocery, and six Taiwanese worshippers were shot in a California church, resulting in a man’s death.
Garland outlined the new steps the Department of Justice is taking.
“We are issuing new guidance raising awareness to hate crimes during the pandemic,” Garland said. “This guidance includes several steps that community-based organization, law enforcement government officials can take to raise awareness to hate crimes.”
Garland said the hate crimes initiative will provide additional funding to states that report their hate crime data to the FBI, increase law enforcement training about hate crimes at all levels, and engage health care providers and clinics to address incidents.
“We believe all people in this country would be able to live without fear of being attacked or harassed because of where they are from, what they look like, who they love or how they worship,” said Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm.
Justice Department officials also announced the hiring of its first-ever language-access coordinator, saying a foreign language is a major barrier to reporting racially motivated crimes. The Department of Justice is promising to use every resource at its disposal to confront unlawful acts of hate and prejudice.
“Hate doesn’t just kill, but it leaves scars in the immediate aftermath but sometimes through generations,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.
Friday’s announcement comes one year after President Joe Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which was partly in response to the shooting of mostly Asian people at an Atlanta, Georgia, massage parlor last year.