Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta Delivers Remarks at Justice Department Event Commemorating One-Year Anniversary of COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act | OPA

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Lisa. And thank you to all of you for joining us to commemorate the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act. As we mourn with the families of the horrific attacks of hate this past week, all of us here today – DOJ, HHS, and agencies across the federal government; legislators and other government officials; advocates like Susan Bro and Haifa and Victoria Jabara; civil rights and community-based groups; public health professionals; victim services; and law enforcement partners across the country – we must leverage all of our expertise to combat hate. Together, we can – and we must – make real this nation’s promise of justice and equality under the law.

As the Deputy Attorney General just discussed, we use our criminal enforcement authority to prosecute those who commit hate crimes. But it is not enough to wait until a crime occurs – we must address hate well before it escalates to violence. The department uses all of its tools to combat hate and mediate conflict to ensure that communities remain safe and feel protected.

Many acts of hate are unlawful under civil antidiscrimination laws, and the department vigorously enforces these civil rights laws to ensure that people are free from harassment in schools, employment, housing, public accommodations and elsewhere. 

For example, in October 2021, the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah announced a settlement agreement with a school district to address race discrimination in the district’s schools, including serious and widespread racial harassment of Black and Asian-American students by both staff and students.

Another critical tool is the department’s Community Relations Service (CRS), which has been revitalized under Attorney General Garland’s leadership. CRS provides facilitated dialogue, mediation, training, and consultation services to help de-escalate tensions and help unite communities facing bias-related conflict. We are so please that Paul Monteiro has recently been confirmed as CRS’s new director. Paul can you please stand?   

The department also seeks to develop resources that can help empower communities targeted by hate and that provide effective strategies that the department, government officials, and law enforcement can use to engage with and serve those communities. 

Under the Attorney General’s directive, I designated one of my deputies – Rachel Rossi who is here today – as the department’s first-ever Hate Crimes Resources Coordinator to help develop these resources.  Rachel has done an extraordinary job working with community-based and advocacy groups and the U.S. Attorneys’ offices across the country to create and centralize the Department’s anti-hate crime and incident resources. 

Yesterday, Rachel was announced as the new Director of the Office to Access to Justice.  I am so grateful for her extraordinary work as coordinator. I am pleased to announce that Saeed Mody – a longtime veteran in the Civil Rights Division – has joined my office and will soon assume the coordinator role. 

Of course, these resources are not useful if they cannot be accessed by the communities they are intended to help. That is why the department has focused on translating the resources that are most relevant to communities impacted by hate. For example, translating the Civil Rights Division’s online reporting portal into at least 24 languages, including eighteen of the most frequently spoken AAPI languages in the United States. 

But translation alone is not enough. We have also sought to increase cultural competency both within the department and among our state, local, territorial and Tribal partners through trainings and other resources. How we engage with communities impacted by hate crimes can be crucial to establishing a lasting relationship of trust.

We are so pleased that Ana will be leading these language access efforts.

Finally, we use grants to fund a diverse array of programs to help prevent hate crimes and serve communities impacted by hate. The Attorney General highlighted the new Jabara-Heyer No Hate Act and the community-based grant programs, which will complement several other important grant programs, including the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Program, that fund programs for hate crime victim services, protection of houses of worship, trainings for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute hate crimes, and much more.

The horrific events of this past week are painful reminders of the hard work we have left to do. We in the department stand with all of you in our shared commitment to build a more perfect, more just, and a more equal, union.

I am now going to pass it back to the Attorney General for closing remarks.

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