Office of the United States Attorney, Ann Birmingham Scheel
District of Arizona
January 20, 2012
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY TO HOLD COMMUNITY CIVIL RIGHTS FORUM FOCUSING ON OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT AND HATE CRIMES
PHOENIX – On Tuesday, January 31, 2012, Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel will hold a Civil Rights Forum for Southern Arizona. The forum will focus on federal civil rights laws, such as official misconduct, new federal statutes on hate crimes, and the investigation and prosecution of violations.
The Department of Justice has a longstanding mission to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans. The forum will bring together the faith-based community, local elected officials, the Acting U.S. Attorney, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to discuss the Department of Justice’s role in civil rights matters.
The forum is designed to inform the public about how they can report allegations of police misconduct, about the elements of a hate crime, and what to do if they have been a victim of a hate crime. Additionally, a portion of the forum will focus on the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was signed by President Barack Obama in 2009. The act makes it a federal crime to willfully cause, or attempt to cause, bodily injury to another person with any dangerous weapon because of the person’s race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.
“The Department of Justice has a duty to investigate community matters to ensure that an individual’s civil rights are not being violated by law enforcement misconduct or by an individual committing a hate crime,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel. “As the Acting U.S. Attorney, I would strongly encourage those who feel their civil rights have been violated, and those who feel they have been victims of hate crimes, to have the confidence to report their situations to this office or to the FBI. The office’s Civil Rights Unit vigorously prosecutes crimes of this nature.”
The Hate Crimes Prevention Act carries the names of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd because both were victims of hate crimes. Shepard was killed due to his sexual orientation in 1996. Byrd, who was targeted because he was African American, was murdered in 1998.
The Civil Rights Forum will be held in the main conference room at the Tucson YWCA, which is located at 525 North Bonita Avenue. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and the forum will begin at 6:00 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.
RELEASE NUMBER: 2012-011 (Civil Rights Forum)
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For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az