Citing the “alarming increase in bias-motivated violence” since the election of President Trump that has left “[m]any members of racial, ethnic and religious minority communities, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, live in very real fear for their safety,” Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) led a group of 25 Senators in writing to Attorney General Jeff Sessions urging him “to make combatting hate crimes a major focus at the Department of Justice and prioritize funding for the protection of civil rights as you evaluate budget priorities.”
Specifically, the Senators urge the Attorney General
to include full funding for the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service and Civil Rights Division, both as you work with Congress to address funding for the Department of Justice for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017, and as you develop your Fiscal Year 2018 budget request. The Community Relations Service oversees a force of professional mediators and trainers charged with bringing together communities in conflict to help them enhance their ability through local, independent mechanisms to prevent and resolve existing and future concerns. The Civil Rights Division leads the Department’s efforts to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, and enforce federal civil rights and hate crimes laws. Together, these components of the Department play a critical role in addressing discrimination and bias-motivated crime in our country.
The Senators also stressed the need to
work with state and local officials in prosecuting hate crimes, in working with state and local jurisdictions to improve their assessment and reporting of such crimes, and to prosecute such crimes at the federal level when appropriate.
The signatories are; Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ben Cardin D-MD), Edward Markey (D-MA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Al Franken (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).