Hello, my name is Eric Dreiband and I am the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Justice. I head the Department’s Civil Rights Division, which works with our federal partners, including United States Attorney John Bash and his team in the Western District of Texas and Special Agent in Charge Luis Quesada of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s El Paso office.
I am very grateful to U.S. Attorney Bash, SAC Quesada, and their teams for their outstanding work. We also work with state and local law enforcement, and I am especially thankful for the exceptional work by El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen, the El Paso Police Department, and District Attorney Jaime Esparza.
As Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, it is both my duty and my privilege to enforce the federal civil rights laws and, with our dedicated law enforcement colleagues, to protect the civil rights of all persons in our country.
Our nation is dedicated to the proposition that all of us are created equal and that we are endowed with unalienable rights, including the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is the duty of government to secure these rights, and one way we do so is by enforcing federal hate crimes laws. Attorney General William Barr instructs us that the Department of Justice has no higher priority than to protect the safety and security of our country.
Today, we announce hate crimes charges. In doing so, we and the grand jury allege that the Defendant killed 22 people, injured dozens of others, and terrorized many more people.
Today, we and the grand jury allege that the Defendant committed federal hate crimes, and that he committed these violent crimes to frighten and intimidate the Hispanic community.
Hate crimes physically wound and psychologically harm victims. Such crimes seek to intimidate innocent people and groups of people because of who they are. These horrific crimes may leave many people in a community feeling terrorized, isolated, and vulnerable.
Federal hate crime charges thus carry significant value. They recognize that a violent crime was both an attack against specific victims and also an attack against a particular population.
Federal hate crimes charges affirm to all members of our communities that they are valued, that their protection matters, and that we will protect them and their rights. People in our nation have the right to go to a store on a Saturday morning without fear that they will be shot and killed because of who they are or where they are from.
As the grand jury alleges, the Defendant tried to terrorize an entire community.
This kind of terror will not stand.
The Department of Justice will continue to fight these acts of hatred, both here in El Paso and across our entire country.
This hate crime may be considered an act of domestic terrorism, as have other hate crimes throughout our history, like the violence wrought by white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan. And, as in every such case, we will commit the resources and full authority of the Department of Justice to combat these heinous crimes.
The Department of Justice has brought hate crimes charges in other communities that, like El Paso, tragically suffered hate-motivated violence. We brought hate crimes charges in Pittsburgh for the killings at the Tree of Life Synagogue. We convicted and obtained the ultimate penalty against the man who senselessly murdered African-American worshipers at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Here in El Paso, we will seek justice for the victims, and we will prosecute the Defendant to the full extent of the law. We stand committed to enforcing the hate crimes laws everywhere within our jurisdiction. We remain devoted to protecting the unalienable rights of all people throughout our great Nation, including especially those of the victims of this crime, their friends and families, and this community.
Thank you. I now turn the podium over to Luis Quesada, the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge of the El Paso FBI office.