The Department Of Justice (DOJ) announced a new initiative to combat hate crimes in the Western District of New York. This district includes Buffalo, NY, where a white gunman shot and killed 10 people at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood earlier this year. The shooter was charged with federal hate crimes and was accused of carrying out a racially motivated attack.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, Trini E. Ross, announced The United Against Hate initiative on September 29. It aims to connect federal, state and local law enforcement with marginalized communities in an effort to foster trust, strengthen coordination and encourage people to report hate crimes.
“The horrific events of May 14 took the lives of 10 members of our community because of their race, just because they were Black. This type of race-based hate is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in this community or in our society,” Ross said in a statement from the DOJ.
The launch of the Western District of New York program is part of a broader effort by the DOJ as The United Against Hate initiative will be implemented in all 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices nationwide.
According to the department, it covers topics like “defining hate crimes versus hate incidents; emphasizes the importance of reporting unlawful acts of hatred; 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.”
“The stronger the ties between communities and law enforcement, the more faith that communities will have that their allegations will be investigated and taken seriously,” Clarke said in a statement.
The DOJ says three offices piloted the program last spring, and 16 programs will be launched this fall. The United Against Hate initiative will be implemented in all offices next year.
“Our communities, schools, workplaces, houses of worship and homes are all safer when we stand unified in the fight against hate,” said Clarke.