Hate crimes must be a Justice focus
Last Monday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch visited a mosque in Northern Virginia, and on Tuesday she held a roundtable with LGBT youths at a New York high school. It is not happenstance that she is using her last month in office to reach out to groups that are among the most vulnerable to hate crimes. Hopefully her message will be embraced and extended by the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
Lynch’s visit to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society was her first to a mosque while in office and came amid what she previously characterized as an “alarming” rise in anti-Muslim crime. A report by the FBI last month showed reported hate crimes against Muslims increased by nearly 67 percent in 2015 compared with the previous year, making for the highest number since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Since the election of Trump, civil rights groups and others have catalogued hundreds of incidents around the country that targeted Muslims, immigrants, blacks, Jews, women and LGBT people.
A report from the Southern Poverty Law Center documented 867 reports of harassment and intimidation in the 10 days following the Nov. 8 election. The report noted the targets of the post-election incidents reported they were experiencing something new, with many of the harassers invoking the name of Trump, whose campaign included thinly veiled appeals to white nationalists. Trump’s perfunctory denunciation of the attacks thus far stands in disappointing contrast to Lynch’s outreach or, for that matter, to then-President George W. Bush’s visit to a mosque in the emotional aftermath of 9/11.
What Lynch and Bush realize is that the damage of a hate crime extends beyond the individual being targeted to an entire group of people who fear becoming the next victim. “When one of us is threatened, we all have to speak out,” Lynch told the interfaith gathering of Christians and Muslims in Loudoun County on Monday. Just as important is the enforcement of federal hate-crime laws, and here again there is cause for concern with the incoming administration. Trump’s choice to replace Lynch as attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., vigorously opposed expansion of federal hate-crime protections in 2009; if confirmed, he will have great sway in deciding the direction of the Justice Department. It is important that Senate confirmation hearings press Sessions on where ensuring just and fair treatment for all Americans ranks in his priorities.
MIKE NELSON’S DENVER FORECAST
Mostly sunny and not as cold Monday. Temperatures rise to the upper 30s and low 40s. However, wind-chill values as low as -7 are possible. Overnight lows drop to the 20s, before a milder day moves in Tuesday.