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Press Release

Southern Illinois U.S Attorney's Office and FBI Springfield Call on Public To Report Hate Crimes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois

Fairview Heights, Ill. – U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft and FBI Springfield Special Agent in
Charge Sean M. Cox reaffirm their commitment to investigating and prosecuting hate crimes in
Southern Illinois and urge members of the public to report all incidents where a federal hate 
crime  may  have  occurred.  A  violent  act  motivated  by  bias  towards  a  person’s  actual  or
perceived  race,  color,  religion,  national  origin,  gender,  gender  identity,  sexual 
orientation,  or disability can qualify as a federal hate crime.
“Safeguarding the civil rights promised by our laws and the Constitution strikes at the very core
of our mission at the Department of Justice,” said U.S. Attorney Weinhoeft. “All violence is
condemnable, but violence born from bigotry and hatred leaves especially deep scars – not just on
the victims but on all of us. This office will vigorously investigate and prosecute any hate crimes
committed in this district. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a federal hate crime,
we want to know about it.”

FBI Springfield Special Agent in Charge Sean M. Cox said, “The FBI will not tolerate crimes spurred
by hate and intolerance meant to intimidate and isolate targeted groups. Hate crimes are not just
an attack on an individual, they are an attack on entire communities where people from all walks of
life deserve respect and the ability to live, work, and raise their children without fear. FBI
Springfield wants to assure the public we will work diligently to thoroughly investigate any
violation of such crimes. We encourage anyone who believes their civil rights have been violated to
report it to the FBI.”

All persons with information about a possible federal hate crime are strongly encouraged to contact
FBI-Springfield at 217-522-9675.

Today’s call for public assistance comes as the Department of Justice is conducting a 30- day 
“expedited  review”  to  determine  how  best  to  use  all  the  tools  at  the  agency’s 
disposal  to combat hate crimes. The focus is not just on increasing criminal investigations and
prosecutions; the Department is also considering ways to improve federal hate crime reporting and
tracking, to better utilize civil enforcement authorities to address other unlawful acts of bias,
and to engage
more effectively with victimized communities across the country, among other goals.

The  30-day  “expedited  review”  was  announced  in  a  March  30  internal  memo  from Attorney
General Merrick Garland, who directed all Justice Department components to prioritize the
investigation and prosecution of hate crimes and related incidents. The memo emphasized the
particular importance of countering what the Attorney General described as a “disturbing trend” in 
reports  of  violence  against  members  of  the  Asian  American  and  Pacific  Islander  (AAPI)
community since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hate crimes committed in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area fall under the purview of the U.S.
Attorney’s Hate Crimes Task Force. Led by the U.S. Attorneys for the Southern District of  Illinois
 and  the  Eastern  District  of  Missouri,  the  Task  Force  is  comprised  of  more  than  90
members of community organizations and state and federal agencies devoted to the ongoing work of
defeating racism, bias, bigotry, and unlawful discrimination in all its forms. Since 1997, the Task
Force h  s coordinated multi-faceted responses to hate crimes and bias incidents in the St.
Louis region.

Updated April 12, 2021