On Tuesday, March 8th, 2022, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “Combating the Rise in Hate Crimes.” Interfaith Alliance submitted written testimony to the committee underscoring the need to address rising incidents of hate-based violence. As an organization committed to combating religious discrimination and bigotry, we are acutely aware of the need for decisive action to protect our community members and neighbors who face hatred and violence.
Hate Crimes are Devastating to Affected Communities
Any crime committed by one human being against another is a tragedy. But hate crimes are uniquely damaging, impacting those targeted, their loved ones, and the larger group they represent. When a hate crime occurs, a whole community is impacted. Whether they occur globally or locally, the effects are felt certainly by the adults of a community, but especially by the children. These ripple effects must be addressed to ensure our government is fulfilling the promise of true religious freedom.
No one should be made to feel unwelcome or unsafe in their communities. The committee should be guided by those most affected by the fear and instability these acts cause and ensure stakeholders have the data and resources they need. In doing so, this committee can live up to the promise this government made to protect each person, regardless of their identity.
To Address Hate-based Violence, Accurate Data is Essential
Accurate data is essential in providing law enforcement and targeted communities with the information they need to respond to the growing threat of hate crime. But due to persistent underreporting by law enforcement agencies, FBI statistics only show a fraction of the larger picture. That is why Interfaith Alliance joined with our coalition partners to urge bipartisan support for the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer NO HATE Act, a bill that promoted accurate data reporting. On April 22, 2021, the NO HATE Act was passed as an amendment to the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, a much-needed step to support victims of hate crimes, their communities, and authorities.
Targeted Communities Must Lead Responses to Hate Crime
Hate crimes shatter the lives of victims, families, and their communities. It is essential that steps to address this issue are influenced by those affected, allowing those communities to lead and actors like law enforcement to follow. Law enforcement officials do not provide the same sense of security for some communities as it does for others. Building trust between law enforcement and community partners is essential in preventing future tragedies.
Our freedoms are inextricably bound with the freedoms of our neighbors who face hatred and discrimination. It is imperative that the Senate Judiciary Committee acts to protect our communities, now and for the future.
Learn more about Interfaith Alliance’s efforts to protect true religious freedom.