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Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke Delivers Opening Statement Before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good morning, Chairman Roy, Ranking Member Scanlon, Ranking Member Nadler and distinguished members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.

Protecting civil rights is essential to the Department of Justice. In fact, the department was created in 1870, in part, to confront the Ku Klux Klan and others who used terror and violence to prevent Black people from exercising their civil and Constitutional rights.

Nearly one hundred years later, Congress gave new energy to this work by enacting legislation that established the Civil Rights Division and empowered it to protect the civil rights of every person in America. 

Our work remains vital as we continue to see acts of bigotry, violence and discrimination in many aspects of life.

The division combats these harms by enforcing the Constitution and the protections enshrined in law by Congress.

We work to ensure that every eligible American has voice in our democracy by confronting discrimination and work to advance equal opportunity in employment, housing, education and more. We safeguard the rights of people with disabilities and defend the civil rights of those who serve in our nation’s armed forces, past and present. We work to vindicate the rights of sexual assault survivors and people who experience sexual harassment in education, workplaces, housing and in jails and prisons. 

We work to ensure that law enforcement personnel carry out their jobs lawfully and without bias. This work includes criminal prosecutions of officers who abuse their power, including officers tied to the tragic deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Tyre Nichols in Memphis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville.

Work that has particular urgency today is our response to bias-motivated violence. FBI data show that reported hate crimes are at their highest level in more than a decade. Black people remain the group most frequently targeted of hate crimes and, crimes motivated by antisemitism, Islamophobia and bias against the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity have also climbed in number.

In the weeks following the devastating Oct. 7 attacks in Israel and ensuing violence in the Middle East, we’ve seen an alarming increase in acts of hate in our neighborhoods, on our campuses and in our streets. We know that too many communities live in fear. And we’ve all seen the horrors that can result from hate.

The Charleston Nine.  

The El Paso 23.  

The Tree of Life 11.  

The Buffalo 10.  

The Club Q Five.  

The Jacksonville Three. 

Each of these tragedies offers a bleak testament to the death, pain and trauma that can flow from hatred and bigotry.

And so, the division’s top priority is to investigate and prosecute these unlawful acts of hate. Since January of 2021, the division has charged more than 105 defendants in more than 95 cases for committing hate crimes. And during that time, we have obtained more than 90 convictions.

For example, the Civil Rights Division secured a guilty verdict against the man who killed 11 people and critically wounded seven others at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The division also secured a conviction of the man who killed 23 and wounded 22 more at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas – victims targeted because of their Hispanic identity. And we secured convictions of the three men responsible for the racially motivated killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.

Hate crimes are message crimes. The perpetrators not only target their direct victims but also seek to instill fear in the victims’ community. But our prosecutions send a louder and more powerful message: that hate crimes will not be tolerated in our democracy; that perpetrators will be punished and held accountable; and that the communities targeted will be safeguarded by the federal government.

As I close, I want to recognize the hundreds of dedicated public servants in the Civil Rights Division who carry out this critical work. Their commitment inspires me each day and I’m honored to represent them here today.  

Thank you. I look forward to your questions.

Civil Rights
Updated December 5, 2023