ADL Applauds Introduction of Federal Hate Crimes Law
New York, NY, March 11, 1999
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today hailed the
introduction of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) in Congress. The Act would
strengthen the ability of federal authorities to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated
"The nation woke up to the horror of hate crimes following the brutal murders of
James Byrd Jr. and Matthew Shepard. Yet the killing has not stopped. Only three weeks ago
in Alabama, Billy Jack Gaither was bludgeoned to death by two men, allegedly because he
was gay," said Howard P. Berkowitz, ADL National Chairman, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL
Under current Federal law, the government must prove that the crime occurred because of
a persons membership in a protected group, such as race or religion, and because he
or she was engaging in a federally-protected activity (such as voting, going to school, or
working). The HCPA would eliminate these overly-restrictive limitations and provide
authority for federal investigations and prosecutions in cases in which the bias violence
occurs because of the victims sexual orientation, gender or disability.
"State and local authorities investigate and prosecute the overwhelming majority
of hate crime cases -- and will continue to do so after the HCPA is enacted," said
Mr. Berkowitz and Mr. Foxman. "While forty states have enacted hate crimes laws --
many based on ADLs model statute -- fewer than half the state laws cover crimes
directed at individuals because of their sexual orientation, gender, or disability. The
HCPA would provide a necessary backstop to state and local enforcement by permitting
federal authorities to provide assistance in these investigations -- and by allowing
federal prosecutions when necessary to achieve a just result.."
The HCPA is sponsored by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Ron Wyden
(D-OR), Gordon Smith (R-OR), and Charles Schumer (D-NY), and by Reps. John Conyers (D-MI),
Connie Morella (R-MD), Richard Gephardt (D-MO), and Michael Forbes (R-NY).
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.