Sep 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

DOJ launches initiative to combat hate in Buffalo

Photo of flowers, pictures and signs positioned in front of the Tops grocery store as two people look at the memorial site

Community members pay respects at a "Memorial Garden" filled with flowers, photos and mementos outside the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York on July 14, 2022. Photo: John Normile via Getty Images

The Justice Department announced Thursday a new initiative aimed at to combating hate crimes in the Western District of New York, where a white gunman shot and killed 10 people in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo earlier this year.

Driving the news: The United Against Hate initiative will "directly connect" federal, state and local law enforcement with marginalized communities in a bid to foster trust, strengthen coordination and encourage hate crime reporting.

  • The regional effort is part of the nationwide initiative recently announced by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
  • The DOJ is expected to expand 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices over the next year.

What they're saying: "The horrific events of May 14 took the lives of 10 members of our community because of their race, just because they were Black," Trini E. Ross, U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York, said in a statement. "This type of race-based hate is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in this community or in our society."

  • The new initiative will convene law enforcement agencies "with those communities that are most vulnerable to becoming victims of hate crimes or hate incidents, while at the same time holding those who commit these acts accountable for their behavior," Ross added.
  • "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, who oversees the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.

The big picture: The 18-year-old accused of committing the mass shooting has pleaded not guilty to 25 criminal charges against him, including one count of domestic terrorism motivated by hate.

Go deeper: The racist conspiracy theory cited by the Buffalo shooter

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