Washington, DC - June 19, 2016 - U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on Congress to boost federal funding for Department of Justice (DOJ) programs that prevent hate crimes and discrimination. Schumer today said that the fatal Orlando attack on a gay nightclub underscores the threats faced by the whole LGBT community across the nation, and here in New York, and requires an adequate response to protect all citizens against terror and hate.
“All Americans—regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, religion or race---should be kept safe from discrimination and hate and violence,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “New York’s melting pot has unfortunately not escaped the rash of hate crimes targeting several communities like our LGBT family. Our local law enforcement agents must be equipped with the federal resources needed to prevent, investigate and prosecute hate crimes and that’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass this amendment— because it is the first duty of government to protect its citizens from fear and hate and violence.”
Schumer said Congress must pass a new Department of Justice amendment he is pushing so that local law enforcement agencies in New York have access to the resources needed to keep all New Yorkers safe by preventing potential prejudiced attacks as well as investigating and prosecuting federal hate crimes.
In response to the bias-motivated attacks against the LGBT and Latino communities in Orlando, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) unveiled a new amendment that would ensure the DOJ has the necessary resources to prevent, investigate and prosecute potential hate crimes throughout the country. Specifically, under the proposal, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division (CRT) and Community Relations Service (CRS) would be allocated an additional $30 million and $11 million respectfully.
Schumer today said that New York City has unfortunately not escaped the wave of hate crimes targeting the LGBT community. A New York man last year was arrested last year for attacking Larry and Daniel Lennox-Choate, the first gay couple to be married at West Point Military Academy. In addition, this past March, Elliot Morales was convicted of murder as a hate crime for killing Mark Carson, a gay man, in Manhattan. Morales was sentences 40 years to life in prison. In April , James Dixon was sentenced to 12 years in prison after murdering Islan Nettles, a transgender woman.
A recent New York Times article says that LGBT people are now twice as likely to be targeted for hate crimes than any other minority group. According to the FBI, of the 6,727 victims of hate crimes reported by federal law enforcement agencies in 2014, 18.7 percent (or 1, 248) of victims of single-bias crimes were targeted because of their sexual orientation; 1.6 percent (or 109) of victims of single-bias crimes were targeted because of their gender-identity; and .6 percent (or 4 DOJ’s Civil Rights Division 0) of victims of single-bias crimes were targeted because of their gender. Schumer explained that, unfortunately, the number of hate crimes may be even higher. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, most crimes are not reported to the police and those that are reported are often not classified as hate crimes.
A full summary of the amendment Schumer is pushing can be found below:
The amendment would provide an additional $41 million to the FY 2017 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. Of this amount, $30 million is dedicated to the Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division (CRT), and $11 million is dedicated to the Community Relations Service. This raises funding for DOJ to $197.4 million above the Fiscal Year 2016 funding level.
The additional $30 million would bring total funding for CRT to $178 million and support DOJ efforts to protect Americans from discrimination because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as their race, color, sex, disability, religion, familial status, and national origin, including the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. Additional CRT funding would allow for the hiring of an additional 100 attorneys focused on enforcing federal civil rights and hate crime laws.
The additional $11 million would support several DOJ Community Relations Service (CRS) initiatives and bring total funding for this program to $25 million. CRS helps State and local officials find solutions when faced with bias-motivated crises that threaten their communities. Its work, which excludes the investigation or prosecution of cases, is dedicated to crimes motivated by a victim’s gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. Additional CRS funding would allow for the hiring of 10 new mediation specialists.