Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hate Crimes Revisted

As the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act moves closer to becoming law, seemed like a good time for a Hate Crime Refresher Course. First, this from Cyndi Lauper:

The Problem
A hate crime occurs when the perpetrator of the crime intentionally selects the victim because of who the victim is. Hate crimes rend the fabric of our society and fragment communities because they target an entire community or group of people, not just the individual victim. However, in most cases, current law prevents the federal government from assisting state and local authorities.

What is the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act / Matthew Shepard Act?
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA)/Matthew Shepard Act gives the Department of Justice (DOJ) the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the DOJ with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

The Act provides the DOJ with the ability to aid state and local jurisdictions either by lending assistance or, where local authorities are unwilling or unable to act, by taking the lead in investigations and prosecutions of bias-motivated, violent crimes resulting in death or serious bodily injury. The LLEHCPA also makes grants available to state and local communities to combat violent crimes committed by juveniles, train law enforcement officers or assist in state and local investigations and prosecutions of bias-motivated crimes.


All the above from the HRC website.

Here's the deal as far as I'm concerned: Hate crime laws are ALREADY on the books. This legislation is NOT about prioritizing one kind of violence over another -- it is about giving LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS the tools they need to call on the Department of Justice for assitance in investigating and prosecuting crimes of violence on victims targeted because of who they are. And it's about expanding hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

I've been lobbying on Capitol Hill for this legislation for many years and seeing it so close to finally passing with a president in the White House who will sign it is a HUGE step. So my prayers continue to ascend that it will move forward. I invite you to join me in those intercessions. It's never too late to do the right thing. The time is now.

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