Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at the United Against Hate Virtual Forum

Source The Justice Department



Media – Good afternoon. And welcome to this virtual forum on the Justice Department’s United Against Hate Initiative.

I want to thank Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for bringing us together, and for her extraordinary leadership of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

I also want to recognize Officer Jamie Byrd-Grant and Dennis and Judy Shepard who are joining us today. The law named in memory of their loved ones has given the Justice Department critical tools with which to prosecute and deter acts of hate. We are grateful for your presence and your continued advocacy in honor of James and Matthew.

Over the past year, every one of the Justice Department’s 94 United States Attorneys’ Offices has brought together community groups, community leaders, and law enforcement at every level to build trust and strengthen coordination to combat unlawful acts of hate.

We launched that nation-wide program, United Against Hate, because we know that combating hate crimes requires a coordinated, united effort.

We also know that the time to build relationships and trust between law enforcement and community partners is before an incident or crisis occurs. Although our work to combat hate crimes is always important, it can quickly become more urgent at any time. It is in those moments when we rely on our partnerships the most.

That is exactly what we have seen over the past several weeks.

As I see in my daily threat briefings, there has been a significant increase in the volume and frequency of threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities across our country.

Yesterday we arrested and charged a person with posting threats to kill or injure Jews at Cornell University. As this arrest shows, we are focusing our efforts on confronting and disrupting illegal threats wherever they arise. The Justice Department has no tolerance for violence or unlawful threats of violence fueled by antisemitism or Islamophobia.

I recognize the fear, frustration, and isolation that many of you have felt over the past few weeks, and that you continue to feel as you join us here today.

I want to reiterate a core principle of this Justice Department: no person and no community in this country should have to live in fear of hate-fueled violence.

You are not alone. And the Justice Department is committed to building on our partnerships with all of you to combat illegal acts of hate.

That is why I have directed all of our U.S. Attorneys and FBI field offices to work closely with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in their districts to keep their communities safe.

That is why I have directed our U.S. Attorneys to reach out to religious and other community leaders in their districts to reaffirm our commitment to them and assess what additional support they may need.

And that is why we are meeting today.

The Justice Department was founded 153 years ago, with the principal task of securing the civil rights promised by the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. This meant protecting Black Americans seeking to exercise their right to vote from terrible violence and threats of violence by white supremacists.

Today, combating hate-fueled violence remains central to the Justice Department’s mission.

The name of this initiative, and the theme of our meetings today – United Against Hate – is no accident.

For our democracy to function, we must all be protected in our right to live free from hate-fueled violence and the threat of violence. We must all be protected in our right to hold different opinions, and to voice those opinions peacefully. And we must all be united against hate.

As you begin today’s important conversations, please know that this Justice Department is committed to protecting you, now and always.

That was the Department’s founding purpose. And it is a purpose I am proud to embrace as Attorney General. Thank you for being here.

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