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Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

Justice Department Commemorates the Tenth Anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

Hate crimes threaten the health of our community life, and a decade after passage of the Shepard-Byrd Act, and more than twenty years after the brutal murders of the men for whom it was named, prosecuting hate crimes remains a top priority for the Department of Justice.

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division

On October 16, 2019, the Department of Justice marked the tenth anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA). The anniversary of the landmark legislation, coming just a few months after the tragic events in El Paso and a year after the violent attacks on synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, highlights the Act’s continued importance.  It also underscores how partnerships between law enforcement and community stakeholders are critical to effectively address hate crimes and their aftermath.   

At the event, the Department announced forthcoming  technical assistance resources to fight hate crimes across the country, including a new hate crimes training curriculum for law enforcement, and a hate crimes outreach and engagement program for communities entitled “United Against Hate: Cultivating Community Partnerships.”

Participants honored those who worked tirelessly for the passage of the Act as well as those on the front lines of today’s enforcement and prevention efforts, while also acknowledging the critical work yet to be done.

The event featured opening remarks from the Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division, Eric Dreiband, and remarks from the Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, Terry Wade.  Federal prosecutors and the Honorable Carlton Reeves provided a presentation on the first case brought under the HCPA for killing a victim, a hate crimes conspiracy case pertaining to events that culminated in the murder of James Craig Anderson in Jackson, Mississippi.  Katherine Sullivan, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Justice Programs, moderated a panel on the importance of law enforcement and community partnerships, featuring Will Johnson, Chief of the Arlington, Texas Police Department and Vice President At-Large for the International Association of Chiefs of Police; Nadia Aziz, Interim Co-Director & Policy Counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; and Michael Lieberman, Washington Counsel for the Anti-Defamation League. In addition, the Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Phil Keith, and Deputy Director of the Community Relations Service, Gerri Ratliff, explained their components’ key roles in outreach to the law enforcement and stakeholder communities.

In recent years, the Department has strengthened its hate crimes prosecution program and increased training of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to help ensure hate crimes are identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent possible. For example, the Department of Justice has charged more than 330 defendants with hate crimes offenses, including more than 70 defendants total during Fiscal Years 2017, 2018, and 2019.  During this three-year time period, the Department has obtained convictions of more than 65 defendants for hate crimes incidents with some cases still pending.

The Department offers a variety of training and outreach programs to work with local communities and organizations and law enforcement to identify, investigate, and prosecute hate crimes cases all over the country. Access descriptions of the Department’s current training and outreach programs here.

Click here to view additional details from the event and more about the announced law enforcement training and community outreach technical assistance resources. 

Click here to read Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband’s keynote address, which focused on the history of hate related violence in America, and the importance of the HCPA to Federal hate crimes enforcement and prevention efforts.