ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Today, Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), announced the completion of the first of a series of events designed to help community members and leaders have a better understanding of hate crimes and how to report them to law enforcement.
Yesterday evening, EDVA and the Jewish Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater co-hosted a presentation called “United Against Hate: Identifying, Reporting and Preventing Hate Crimes” at the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community in Virginia Beach. Members of communities in Hampton Roads who are at risk of being targeted in hate crimes, as well as organizations representing these communities, were invited to the event, as well as law enforcement professionals who work on investigating hate crimes. The goal of this event series is to empower community members to prevent and respond to hate crimes and incidents by meeting and facilitating conversations with the law enforcement members to whom they can direct questions and reports about hate crimes and hate incidents.
“One of the greatest promises our country offers is the opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of your background or identity,” said Aber. “Unfortunately, that promise can be compromised for some because of discriminatory acts against them, one of the most heinous of which is hate crimes. We at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, along with our federal and state law enforcement partners, want to encourage the community to report all incidents of hate to law enforcement. Although not every incident can be prosecuted as a crime, reporting allows us to prosecute those that can and enables us to connect incidents across the Commonwealth and the nation, to marshal resources to the most targeted communities, and to better monitor trends in order to prevent future incidents. We hope that UAH will be the beginning of increased public awareness about hate crimes.”
The speakers at the event included U.S. Attorney Aber and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh, as well as law enforcement professionals from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, and Norfolk Police Department. Over 40 people attended the event.
Through hypothetical scenarios and video clips depicting real-life hate crime cases and stories, United Against Hate promotes robust interaction between community members and law enforcement participants. Program topics include defining hate crimes versus hate incidents; the importance of reporting unlawful acts of hate; providing options for responding to hate incidents when situations do not constitute a federal or state crime; and distinguishing unlawful conduct from protected First Amendment activity, including identifying protected speech versus speech that advocates violence or encourages people to commit hate crimes.
On May 27, 2021, Attorney General Garland issued a memorandum on “Improving the Department’s Efforts to Combat Hate Crimes and Hate Incidents,” which emphasized the importance of prioritizing community outreach around hate crimes. The United Against Hate presentation, developed by the Department’s Hate Crimes Enforcement and Prevention Initiative, is designed to meet that objective. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia applied for and was proud to be selected for the first national phase of this important program.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
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