SCRANTON - United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office continues to promote the Department of Justice’s new initiative to better counter hate crimes and hate incidents in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
As part of the initiative, U.S Attorney Karam hosted a meeting with Scranton High School students, the Mayor of Scranton, law enforcement agencies, and community leaders from across Northeastern Pennsylvania. This meeting was designed to educate students and community leaders on identifying, reporting, and preventing hate crimes.
At this event, subject matter experts from the United States Attorney’s Office, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office; the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Pennsylvania State Police, City of Scranton, the Lackawanna and Luzerne County District Attorney’s Offices, and other local law enforcement identified federal and state criminal hate crime statutes. The audience was made up of Scranton High School students, groups of community leaders, civil rights advocates and organizations, and religious leaders of various faiths. Presenters highlighted differences between hate crimes versus hate incidents and provided options for responding to hate incidents when situations do not constitute a federal or state crime. Presenters also distinguished unlawful conduct from protected First Amendment activity, including identifying protected speech versus speech that advocates violence or encourages people to commit hate crimes.
The Middle District of Pennsylvania was one of the first of 16 U.S. Attorney Offices to launch the United Against Hate program. U.S. Attorney Karam previously hosted a meeting on November 17, 2023, in the Harrisburg area with an audience of various law enforcement agencies and community leaders from across the mid-state. The United Against Hate initiative seeks to strengthen collaborative relationships of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies with communities in order to build trust and encourage the reporting of hate crimes and hate incidents.
“Building upon our partnership with our community leaders and our state and local law enforcement, we are reaching out to school leaders and our future leaders, the youth of this District, to play an important role in identifying, reporting, and preventing crimes of hate, ” said U.S. Attorney Karam. “The number of hate crimes and incidents continue to rise, including in schools, and we want to take every opportunity to educate, listen, and collaborate to combat these acts that violate the fundamental principal of democracy. We will hold all those accountable who commit crimes because of someone’s skin color, the faith they practice, who they love, or because they have a disability.”
As part of its United Against Hate programming, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to partner with communities across the Middle District of Pennsylvania to expand connections with those communities, further hate crimes prevention efforts, and encourage more people to report hate crimes and hate incidents.
Those who believe they are subject to hate crimes or incidents should contact local law enforcement and the FBI. Members of the public may report possible civil rights violations at https://civilrights.justice.gov/report/. Anyone in the Middle District of Pennsylvania may also report civil rights violations to the Civil Rights coordinator of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania by calling 717-614-4911 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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