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SPLC Action Fund: Congress should adopt NO HATE Act to neutralize growing threat from white supremacists

Members of Congress recently introduced new legislation that would improve reporting on hate crimes and expand assistance and resources to hate crime victims.

The Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer National Opposition to Hate, Assaults, and Threats to Equality (NO HATE) Act is in response to high-profile attacks on the LGBTQ, Jewish, Muslim and other communities.

The bill is named in honor of Khalid Jabara, who was killed in 2016 after months of racially charged animus directed at him and his Lebanese-American family; and Heather Heyer, who was killed in 2017 while protesting the “Unite the Right” white supremacist gathering in Virginia.

Sponsors of the NO HATE Act, which was introduced last week, rightly say that reporting of such incidents by law enforcement has not kept up with a rise in hate crimes.

Our latest count shows that hate groups operating across America rose to a record high in 2018. It was the fourth consecutive year of growth – a cumulative 30 percent increase that coincides roughly with Donald Trump’s campaign for the 2016 presidential elections. FBI statistics show that hate crimes mirrored this increase, rising 30 percent in the three-year period ending in 2017, even though the FBI has not released figures for 2018 yet.

For years, the federal government has neglected to commit the resources needed to adequately combat this threat. As I testified last month before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (Committee on Oversight and Reform), Congress must act to neutralize this metastasizing threat.

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner, Tim Kaine, Richard Blumenthal, Dick Durbin, Mazie Hirono and Kirsten Gillibrand have taken an important step by introducing this legislation. U.S. Reps. Don Beyer and Pete Olson have also taken an important step by introducing a companion bill in the House.

The NO HATE Act will help to collect better information on hate crimes, which all too often are simply cases of domestic terrorism.

It is crucial that all members of Congress support this long overdue legislation.

Photo by U.S. Government