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Combating Hate Crimes In Every State

Leo Frank

Atlanta, GA, August 17 - The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today announced the formation of a new campaign to improve legal response to hate crimes across the United States. 50 States Against Hate: An Initiative for Stronger Hate Crime Laws will work toward the passage of hate crime laws in the five states which do not have them – Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Wyoming – while simultaneously seeking to make existing hate crime laws in the other 45 states more inclusive and comprehensive.

ADL's initiative for stronger hate crime laws was announced at a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the lynching of Leo Frank - a Jewish pencil factory manager who was dragged from his jail cell and murdered in 1915 after a show trial tinged with anti-Semitism and bigotry – attended by Congressman John Lewis (GA-5), former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes, and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens.

"The recent hate-based murders in Charleston by a white supremacist is a wake-up call that the time is now to bring strong hate crime laws to all 50 states – including South Carolina and Georgia which lack them entirely," said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL National Director.

According to the FBI, one hate crime occurs on average every 90 minutes in the United States. Despite this, there is a startling lack of consistency of how hate crime laws are worded and applied from state to state. Aside from the five states which have no law whatsoever (Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana, Arkansas, and Wyoming), only 32 state hate crime laws include sexual orientation, only 31 include disability, only 29 include gender, and only 11 state hate crime laws include gender identity.

"For the memory of the Charleston 9, for the memory of Leo Frank, for the memories of thousands who have lost their lives or have had their lives changed by a hate crime, we must correct this wrong," Mr. Greenblatt said. "We must pass a hate crimes law here in Georgia, and we must strengthen the protections in all 50 states."

He added, "The good news is that we have made incredible progress over this century of work - both in combating anti-Semitism and in securing justice and fair treatment for all. The Leo Frank lynching and the June 17 shootings at an African American church in Charleston were both bias-fueled crimes, designed not only to target the victims simply because of who they were but also to terrorize entire communities. I pledge to you today that ADL, together with our coalition partners, will not rest until we change that. We are eager to start collaborating with additional national and local organizations in the very near future."

ADL has long been in the forefront of national and state efforts to deter and counteract hate crimes. Today, thanks in large part to the League's work to galvanize support and build broad coalitions for their passage, 45 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government have enacted hate crimes laws based on or similar to ADL's model statute, an approach which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993.

The #50StatesAgainstHate campaign seeks to build on the League's efforts by advancing four key goals:

  • Stronger Laws
  • Enact hate crime laws in the five remaining states that do not have hate crime laws on the books
  • Make existing state hate crime laws more inclusive and comprehensive
  • Better Training
  • Enhance training for law enforcement personnel on hate crime identification, response, and reporting in every state
  • Improved Data Collection
  • Improve law enforcement data collection and reporting. According to the FBI's most recent report, 85 cities with over 100,000 in population either did not report hate crime data or affirmatively reported zero (0) hate crimes for the year 2013
  • Increased Community Awareness and Reporting
  • Educate communities. Effective responses to hate violence can build trust and advance police-community relations

National Partners

ADL has convened a broad range of national and local civil rights organizations, and will be building local campaigns to support this new national initiative.

To date, the national coalition partners include: American Association of People with Disabilities; American Association of University Women (AAUW); Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC); American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO; Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD); Hindu American Foundation; Human Rights Campaign; Human Rights First; Japanese; American Citizens League; Jewish Council on Public Affairs; Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; National Council of La Raza; National Disability Rights Network; People For the American Way; PFLAG National; Religious Action Center; Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Sikh Coalition.

ADL's convening of local Georgia organizations include, to date: American Jewish Committee; Feminist Women's Health Center; GALEO; GA Equality; GA Latino Alliance for Human Rights; Islamic Speakers Bureau; NAACP and Sojourn.

 

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