Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York Trini Ross on Thursday announced the launch of its United Against Hate initiative, aimed at combatting hate crimes in Buffalo, N.Y.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier this year pledged to fortify its efforts to combat hate crimes after a mass shooter killed 10 and injured 3 at a Buffalo supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood.
All but two of the victims were Black. The shooter was charged with federal hate crimes and accused of a racially-motivated attack.
"The horrific events of May 14 took the lives of 10 members of our community because of their race, just because they were Black. This type of race-based hate is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in this community or in our society," said Ross in a statement from the DOJ.
"The United Against Hate initiative will bring federal, state and local law enforcement together 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 said.
The Western District of New York's program is part of a broader effort by the Justice Department to implement the United Against Hate initiative in all 94 U.S. Attorneys' offices nationwide.
The program covers topics like "defining hate crimes versus hate incidents; the importance of reporting unlawful acts of hate; providing options for responding to hate incidents when situations do not constitute a federal or state crime; and distinguishing unlawful conduct from protected First Amendment activity," according to the department.
Three offices piloted the program last spring, and 16 programs are slated to launch this fall, according to a release from the department. The initiative will expand to all the offices next year.
"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," Clarke said in Thursday's statement.
"Our communities, schools, workplaces, houses of worship and homes are all safer when we stand unified in the fight against hate."
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