NEAT is proud to be a member of the organizational coalition that sent a letter to Congress in support of the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act of 2021. If enacted, the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act would make necessary changes to the existing reporting structure and data collection regarding hate crimes. Specifically, the legislation would:
- Improve reporting of hate crimes by supporting the implementation of and training for the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), the latest crime reporting standard;
- Provide support to law enforcement agencies that establish a policy on identifying, investigating and reporting hate crimes, train officers on how to identify hate crimes, develop a system for collecting hate crimes data;
- Provide grants for states to establish and run hate crime hotlines, to record information about hate crimes and to redirect victims and witnesses to law enforcement and local support services as needed; and
- Allow for alternative sentencing so that judges can require individuals convicted under federal hate crime laws to community service or education centered on the community targeted by the crime.
This legislation was previously introduced in the 116th Congress but did not get any traction at that time. With the change in legislative leadership and the rise of hate crimes against AAPI and other minority communities, the Act is gaining new momentum. The reintroduction of this legislation has bipartisan and bicameral support, as evidenced in this press release by Republican Senator Jerry Moran (KS).
Khalid Jabara & Heather Heyer
In 2016, Khalid Jabara was murdered in Tulsa, Oklahoma by a neighbor, and, in 2017, Heather Heyer was similarly killed in Charlottesville, Virginia by a car driven into a group of counter-protestors. These were high-profile cases prosecuted as hate crimes locally, but they went unreported in federal hate crime statistics. This impactful data gap caused civil society to look closely at the hate crimes reporting in the United States.
Hate Crimes & the LGBTQ+ Community
Following the brutal 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, his parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, have been tireless advocates to categorize criminal acts based on an individual’s sexual orientation as a hate crime. In 2009, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act became law, named after the gay student and a black man who was killed by white supremacists in Texas the same year. The Act expanded the definition of hate crimes to include gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The law also removed jurisdictional obstacles to prosecutions of race- and religion-motivated violence. In full support of the NO HATE Act, Judy Shepard notes that hate crimes legislation can be improved, stating that “[e]veryone in this country must be made aware of, and educated on, the need to strengthen current hate crime laws and to pass additional legislation. Stopping the increase of hate speech, the rising number of hate crimes against all marginalized communities, and the constant rise of new hate groups must be a top priority in this country.”