May 20, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Justice Department announces $5 million for hate crime hotlines

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaking in the White House on May 16.
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaking in the White House on May 16. Photo: Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Department of Justice announced three new initiatives to address hate crimes in the U.S. on Friday, including $5 million grants for states to open new reporting hotlines for hate crime victims.

Why it matters: Though the new initiatives have been in the works for several weeks, the announcement comes just days after a white suspect killed 10 people at a supermarket in a predominately Black neighborhood, in an attack that's being investigated as a case of racially motivated violent extremism.

  • The new initiatives were unveiled during an event to commemorate the first anniversary of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, one of the federal government's first efforts to address anti-Asian attacks during the pandemic.

What they're saying: Attorney General Merrick Garland committed Friday to using every legal tool available to investigate the Buffalo attack, saying it "was a painful reminder of the singular impact that hate crimes have not only on individuals but on entire communities."

  • "As most of you know, this event was long planned. We did not need any more reminders of the urgency of our fight against hate and racially motivated violent extremism," Garland said. "Unfortunately, we are gathered today in the shadow and the wake of another horrific attack."
  • "If it's possible to even further redouble our efforts, something like this can only cause us to do so. We commit to using every resource of the Department of Justice to prevent these kinds of acts of hate, to hold accountable those who commit them and to support the communities that are damaged, terrorized by them."

The big picture: The Justice Department said it hired a language access coordinator in the Office for Access to Justice, as "we know language access is a major barrier to the reporting of hate crimes," Garland said,

  • It will also release new guidance with the Department of Health and Human Services that law enforcement officials and community organizations can use to raise awareness about increased hate crimes and encourage prevention.
  • An additional $5 million in grants will be given to states for other, new programs to prevent hate crimes.

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