Attorney General Phil Weiser has joined a bipartisan coalition of 35 attorneys general in urging the U.S. Congress to pass the National Opposition to Hate, Assaults, and Threats to Equality Act, which will close critical gaps in hate crime reporting.
Hate crimes in Colorado rose more than 70% between 2018-2019, according to data from the FBI, which also shows 2019 was the deadliest year on record nationally.
The Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, if passed, will provide federal grants to state and local governments and law enforcement agencies to train employees on identifying, classifying, and reporting hate crimes in the FBI’s national database; assist with states’ development of programs to prevent hate crimes; increase community education around hate crimes; and create state-run hate crime hotlines.
“We will not tolerate the hateful targeting of Coloradans simply because of who they are,” said Weiser. “This legislation will give our state tools we need to identify and combat hate crimes and provide more resources for communities in our state who are vulnerable to hate crimes.”
In their letter of support, the attorneys general state that, for more than two decades, thousands of city, county, college and university, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies have voluntarily submitted hate crimes data to the FBI. However, based on the FBI’s 2019 report, most law enforcement agencies did not participate or reported zero incidents.
Exacerbating this gap, less than 25% of law enforcement agencies are using the FBI’s current reporting system, which took effect this year. This lack of data creates critical gaps that inhibit states’ understanding of the hate problem.
Without reliable statistics, the attorneys general argue the government cannot properly understand, investigate, and prosecute hate crimes or provide necessary resources to survivors.
The bill, in addition to providing grants to state and local government, also amends the penalties for federal hate crimes to allow courts to require those who break the law to engage in education about or service to the affected communities as a condition of their supervised release.
This legislation, supported by law enforcement officials from both federal and state levels, provides states and localities with the tools needed to effectively identify and combat hate crimes and engage directly with affected communities.
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine co-led this letter with Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, and they were joined by the attorneys general of Alaska, American Samoa, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, N. Mariana Islands, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.