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Buffalo, N.Y. picked as launch site for the federal United Against Hate program : NPR


The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has announced a new initiative to combat unlawful hate acts in the Western District of New York. Here, a memorial to the victims of the supermarket shooting is set up outside the Tops Friendly Market on Thursday, July 14, 2022, in Buffalo, NY

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The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has announced a new initiative to combat unlawful hate acts in the Western District of New York. Here, a memorial to the victims of the supermarket shooting is set up outside the Tops Friendly Market on Thursday, July 14, 2022, in Buffalo, NY

Joshua Bessex / AP

Five months after the deadly mass shooting killed 10 blacks and wounded 3 others at a supermarket in Buffalo, NY, the Department of Justice recently announced the launch of a new initiative, aimed at combating unlawful hate crimes throughout Buffalo.

In coordination with the Office of the Attorney General of the United States, United Against Hate . Initiative will connect federal, state and local law enforcement with marginalized communities to “build trust” and encourage people to report hate crimes and incidents.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who oversees the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, said: “The Department of Justice is committed to placing all resources at its disposal to keep those who engage in unlawful conduct. hate laws must be held accountable” speak in a news release.

The new initiative, which kicked off in Western New York, is a broader Justice Department effort that it plans to roll out across all 94 U.S. law offices over the next year.

“This type of race-based hatred is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in this community or in society,” said Trini E. Ross, US attorney for the Western District of New York. our association.

Not everyone is sure that the initiative will work

Investigators stand outside during a moment of silence for victims of the Buffalo supermarket shooting outside Tops Friendly Market on Saturday, May 21, 2022, in Buffalo, NY

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As part of the initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will begin engaging with communities across Western New York – in the hope that deeper connections within the communities will encourage them to report. hateful acts.

With the nationwide initiative in its infancy, some experts and those in the Buffalo community remain skeptical of the Justice Department’s vision for the initiative.

James Ponzo II, assistant clinical professor at the University of Buffalo, told NPR: “I think any kind of program or legislation that addresses hate crimes and in other ways is a step forward. start.

But too often, as we all know, things seem to start but stall and die off, he added. “Time will tell whether it really works or if it’s a gimmick.”

For others, such as Buffalo resident Jalonda Hill, clarity is needed from officials on how the government classifies certain acts of hate as “hate crimes.”

“For me, it’s weird how the legal system defines a hate crime against me. Because to me, what I see as a hate crime is just being denied a loan to own a home. – I feel like it’s rooted in hate,” Hill told NPR.

“I see hate crimes as many different things,” she added.

Several states are taking steps to combat a rise in hate crime

The Buffalo initiative comes at a time when new programs to report incidents of bias are being introduced at the state and federal levels.

In May, the Ministry of Justice announced a series of new guidelines and $10 million in new federal grants to help states develop hotlines to report incidents.

In addition, the Ministry of Justice issue new guidelines with the Department of Health and Human Services to raise awareness of hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the United States experiences an uptick in hate crimes and incidents against the American community Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander descent.

In August, New York Governor Kathy Hochul new guidelines announced assist in the development of domestic terrorism prevention plans, committing $10 million to assist counties across the state in developing threat assessment management teams.

And this summer, Maryland officials launch an alert system – Emmett Till Alerts system – to flag racist incidents and acts. Named in honor of a 14-year-old boy who kidnapped, tortured and killed in 1955 after being accused of whistling at a white woman, the alert system will act as a warning system if credible threats are made.

After an incident of hate crime or racism is reported, a group of people determines whether an official warning should be sent. Those notices will be sent to 167 Black-elected statewide officials in Maryland, along with national civil rights organizations, clergy members, and other leaders.

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