Philadelphia, PA – On Thursday, December 7, 2023, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania hosted faith leaders from across the region at the National Constitution Center to learn about resources for protecting houses of worship and preventing acts of hate, United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced today.
Church, mosque, synagogue, and temple leaders met with members of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to learn how federal and state laws are used to prosecute people who harm or threaten places of worship and their congregants, understand how and when to report acts of religious violence and discrimination, and get the resources and build the connections needed to combat and prevent acts of hate. U.S. Attorney Romero hosted the forum as part of the Department of Justice’s United Against Hate initiative.
“With religious-based violence and threats of violence on the rise across the country, our partnerships with our faith and other community leaders are essential,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “Our ability to prosecute hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law depends on members of the community being willing to report acts of hate to our law enforcement partners for investigation. And one of the best ways to prevent crime fueled by religious bias is to be sure faith-based leaders have the information and resources they need to help protect their places of worship and their congregations, and help them forge connections with their fellow community leaders and law enforcement to help make our communities stronger than hate. That’s what our United Against Hate initiative, and today’s event, are all about.”
U.S. Attorney Romero was joined at the event by Kate McGowan, Supervisory Special Agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Charles Phillips, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service, and representatives from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office of Civil Rights. Members of the Pennsylvania State Police, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations were also in attendance and shared remarks.
The United Against Hate initiative will continue well into the new year, U.S. Attorney Romero confirmed. “I will continue to meet with groups concerned about hate-motivated attacks and discrimination, and to work with these groups and our law enforcement partners to build the strong, safe, and resilient communities that people of all backgrounds—religious and otherwise—deserve,” she said.
If you have information about a possible threat to a place of worship or believe you are a victim of or a witness to a hate crime, contact your local law enforcement agency (911), then the FBI at www.fbi.gov/tips or 1-800-CALL-FBI. You can also report a hate crime, find resources, and learn more about the Department of Justice’s hate crimes prevention and enforcement work by visiting www.justice.gov/hatecrimes. Additional resources for houses of worship are available at www.cisa.gov.