Tuesday, April 11, 2017

FBI Hosts Hate Crimes Symposium, Broadens Collaborative Efforts with Local and State Officials

Last week, the FBI’s New York Field Office hosted its inaugural Hate Crimes Symposium at 290 Broadway in Lower Manhattan. The symposium, coordinated by FBI Supervisory Special Agent Anthony Bivona, aimed to extend the FBI’s reach into the communities they serve by providing them with valuable information as it relates to federal hate crime violations. In addition to speakers from the FBI, representatives from the Department of Justice, the New York City Police Department, and the non-profit Life After Hate provided the backdrop for this event.

“Investigating hate crimes is the highest priority of the FBI’s Civil Rights program. Today’s symposium is a reminder of our commitment to continue working with our partners to make sure justice is served for communities that have been victimized by crimes or threats of this nature,” said FBI New York Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr.

"Investigating acts of hate is one of the highest priorities for the New York City Police Department," said Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill. "Over the last year, we have seen hate crimes in this city on the rise. Fortunately, the NYPD has dozens of our best detectives assigned to fully investigate every incident. I am thankful to the help from the FBI—and many others—who have worked jointly on many cases, including the recent series of threats made against Jewish institutions in New York City."

Groups that preach hatred and intolerance have a devastating impact on families and communities, and they can plant the seed of terrorism here in our country. The FBI investigates hundreds of these cases every year and works to detect and deter further incidents through law enforcement training, public outreach, and partnerships with a myriad of community groups.

Traditionally, FBI investigations of hate crimes were limited to crimes in which the perpetrators acted based on a bias against the victim’s race, color, religion, or national origin. In addition, investigations were restricted to those wherein the victim was engaged in a federally protected activity. With the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, the Bureau became authorized to investigate these crimes without this prohibition. This landmark legislation also expanded the role of the FBI to allow for the investigation of hate crimes committed against those based on biases of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or gender.

Also last week, in an effort to pool together all available resources in confronting this threat, the FBI has embedded a representative from the New York State Police within their Civil Rights Program. As with all of their partners who assist them in so many of their law enforcement efforts, including the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices from the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York, they’re looking forward to broadening this relationship for the benefit of FBI and the public alike.

New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach, II said, "This new level of partnership between the state police and the FBI is unprecedented and only strengthens our ability to respond to the threat posed by hate crimes. I want to thank the FBI New York and Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. for sharing our commitment to protect all New Yorkers."

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