U.S. Department of Justice selects Southern District of Texas office to advance “United Against Hate”
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
HOUSTON – The Department of Justice, law enforcement and community-based organizations assembled to further advance a nationwide initiative known as “United Against Hate,” announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
On Sept. 15, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland introduced the program to contest unlawful acts of hate. He selected the Southern District of Texas (SDTX) as one of the 16 cohorts to expand strategies on this initiative.
On Oct. 13, the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) hosted a Community Organizations and Agency Forum which included academic professionals, community organizations representing groups most often targeted by hate crimes, community associations created to combat hate, law enforcement agencies and county, state and federal-level prosecution agencies.
“Hate crimes not only impact the individuals who are directly targeted, but there is community victimization,” said Lowery. “We must take a collaborative and proactive, versus reactive, approach in addressing hate speech and hate crimes in order to make our communities safer.”
The groups reviewed statistical data regarding hate crimes in and around the Houston metroplex and assessed past hate crimes investigations and prosecutions.
An interactive panel including the Anti-Defamation League – Southwest Region, Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance – Rice University, Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, Montrose Center (an agency servicing the LGBTQ+ community) and USAO-SDTX welcomed audience members to participate in difficult conversations. They held in-depth discussions on issues such as lack of reporting by victims, cultural biases, sensitivity issues that may be exhibited when encountering hate crime victims, re-victimization, community awareness and training.
They further considered potential solutions to mitigate these issues including the development of a formal alliance with community partners to outline the process of educating the community, training law enforcement, increasing victim advocacy and prosecuting offenders.
The forum is the beginning of a collaborative community effort to minimize hate crimes in the SDTX through extensive awareness campaigns, thorough investigations and vigorous prosecutions.
Additionally, attendees were provided information regarding the Department of Justice’s United Against Hate Crimes website for reporting hate crimes, resources and federal grant opportunities.
Updated October 14, 2022