Interagency Community Engagement Initiative: Combating Religious Discrimination Today
On December 17, 2015, the White House Office on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships hosted a convening on “Celebrating and Protecting America’s Tradition of Religious Pluralism,” which was attended by more than one hundred religious community and civil rights representatives and various federal agencies. Following the event, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, in partnership with other federal agencies, launched “Combating Religious Discrimination Today,” an interagency community engagement initiative designed to promote religious freedom, challenge religious discrimination, and enhance enforcement of religion-based hate crimes. Between March and July 2016, CRS participated in a series of subsequent community roundtables across the country focused on protecting people and places of worship from religion-based hate crimes; combating religious discrimination, including bullying, in education and employment; and addressing unlawful barriers that interfere with the construction of places of worship. CRS engaged in the community roundtables in Newark, Dallas, Detroit, and Washington D.C.
During the final roundtable, CRS Acting Director Paul Monteiro participated on a panel and delivered remarks on CRS’s critical role in addressing community conflict arising from religious discrimination and religion-based hate crimes. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado John Walsh moderated the panel. Panelists included Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Megan H. Mack, CRS’s Acting Director Paul Monteiro, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Robert Moossy, Washington Counsel for the Anti-Defamation League, Michael Lieberman and Staff Attorney at Muslim Advocates, Madihhda Alhussain. During the panel, Paul highlighted CRS’s role in creating and maintaining relationships with communities prior to the occurrence of a hate crime. Additionally, he underscored the caliber of CRS’s relationships to local communities’ are directly correlated to the Agency’s effectiveness in influencing the course of a community conflict.
Full Report: Combating Religious Discrimination Today (PDF)
CRS Highlighted in Harvard Kennedy School's LGBTQ Policy Journal
In June 2016, the Harvard Kennedy School’s LGBTQ Policy Journal published its latest issue, “Trans* Rights: The Time Is Now,” which featured a submission co-authored by CRS Training and Program Development Coordinator Detailee Christopher “Kit” Chalberg and CRS Program Specialist Kelly Collins-McMurry. The article, “Department of Justice Agency Facilitates Improved Transgender Community-Police Relations,” explores the unique work of CRS in its development and delivery of the agency’s groundbreaking “Law Enforcement and the Transgender Community” cultural professionalism training program. Since the Agency’s mandate was expanded under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) of 2009, CRS has undertaken significant efforts to strengthen relationships and build bridges between law enforcement officials and transgender communities in order to improve public safety and decrease the potential for future conflict and violent hate crimes. In the article, the authors discuss the important work CRS performs in this area and provide case examples that illustrate the ways in which the Agency has successfully helped to build those bridges in Jacksonville, Florida; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Detroit, Michigan; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Denver, Colorado.
CRS Hosts "Know Your Rights" Forums throughout California
In July 2016, CRS Senior Policy Advisor Jasjit Singh organized a series of “Know Your Rights” forums for the Sikh American community throughout the state of California. These forums were attended by various federal, local and state officials including the US Attorney’s Office, FBI, TSA, Equal Opportunity Commission and local police. The objectives of the forums were to empower the community to understand their rights in multiple contexts such as employment and schools. Additionally, the forums brought together local, state and federal officials with Sikh Americans and provided an opportunity to learn about Sikh culture, values and challenges in order to better serve this population.
The forums were conducted in the cities of Buena Park, Fresno and San Jose and were unique to conventional outreach events as they met community members where they worship, during a time that was convenient for them. The allowed hundreds of community members to learn valuable information related to their daily challenges and how local, state, and federal government was responding. Future outreach will include similar events across Texas, Florida, Colorado and Georgia.