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DOJ Announces Program Against Hate in Buffalo, NY

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The U.S. Department of Justice recently announced that they’ll be piloting a new initiative in Buffalo, NY that focuses on combating acts of hate. 

Announced on Thursday at a forum, the project, known as part of the United Against Hate initiative, will work towards putting an end to the hate crimes in the Western District of New York. To build trust and have people feel secure in reporting hate crimes, the initiative will work on deepening the relationship between marginalized communities who are most vulnerable to being hate-crimed and federal, state and local offices. 

At the event, community members and leaders already learned about topics such as the First Amendment, the differences between hate crimes and hate incidences as well as how to deal with both acts of hate using videos and hypothetical situations. 

As the program develops throughout the course of the year, United Against Hate will eventually grow to include all of the 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices. 

Buffalo, NY will be one of the first 16 districts to begin the program this fall.

The city’s involvement in the initiative comes four months after a white shooter took the lives of 10 Black people and wounded three others at the Tops Supermarket in a predominantly Black community. The massacre was motivated by a racist online conspiracy theory and is currently being investigated and prosecuted as a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism. 

“The horrific events of May 14 took the lives of 10 members of our community because of their race, just because they were Black,” said U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross in a statement. “This community has shown that hate will not be accepted, through our actions in the days, weeks and months that followed, when our entire community stood together to send the message that hate will not win.”

“Together, we will continue to send the message that every person deserves to feel safe in their own community and that hate will not be tolerated,” she added. 

The increased efforts to combat hate and extremism come after reports that U.S. hate crimes have been on the rise in 2022. According to an analysis by USC’s nonprofit Crosstown, in Los Angeles alone, there was an almost 17% increase in hate crimes targeting the Black and LGBTIA+ community in the first half of 2022. In just six months from Jan. 1 to June 30, 349 hate crimes were reported; in all of 2021, 596 hate crimes were reported to the police department, setting a record for the most reports of hate crimes. With the latest figures, the record is set to be broken by the end of this year.

“The Justice Department is committed to marshaling all resources at its disposal to hold people who engage in unlawful acts of hate accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke in a statement. “Through United Against Hate, we are bringing together community groups, local leaders and law enforcement at every level to build trust and strengthen coordination to combat unlawful acts of hate.”

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