In a diverse, democratic nation like ours, we all must be able to live and work in our communities without fear of being attacked because of how we look, what we believe, where we are from, or who we love. Despite our nation's great progress in advancing civil rights, brutal assaults made more vicious by racial epithets still occur in big cities and small towns. Crosses are still burned on the lawns of people minding their own business. Mosques, synagogues and churches still are desecrated and sometimes destroyed. Incidents that belong only in our history books still appear in the pages of our newspapers.
The prosecution of hate crimes must be one element in a broader effort of community engagement and empowerment. We need prevention, intervention and reporting strategies to move communities forward in a meaningful way. We have had to battle these acts of bigotry for too long, and in the 21st century, we must focus on eradicating hate from our communities altogether, stopping these acts before they occur.
Prosecuting hate crimes therefore is a top priority for the Attorney General and the Civil Rights Division, and we have expanded our efforts to prosecute hate crimes. So far, the Division has indicted 9 cases and convicted 34 defendants under the Shepard-Byrd law.
Vincent Chin, James Byrd, Jr., and Matthew Shepard remain powerful reminders of why, in 2012, we continue to stand beside those in our nation who cannot make their voices heard alone. We will continue to enforce these essential laws to ensure that all individuals can realize the promise of equal justice under the law.Remembering Vincent Chin | The White House