ADL Calls For Action By The House Of Representatives To Close Federal Hate Crime Gap
Washington, D.C. July 22, 1998... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today
called on Congress to enact legislation to eliminate gaps in Federal authority to
investigate and prosecute bias-motivated crimes. The League submitted testimony at
hearings before the House Judiciary Committee on the proposed legislation, the Hate Crime
Prevention Act (HCPA).
"The senseless, brutal murder of James Byrd, Jr. in Jasper, Texas
last month, allegedly by individuals associated with a white supremacist group, has
horrified the nation," said Howard P. Berkowitz, ADL National Chairman, and Abraham
H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Local law enforcement officials have responded
effectively to this crime, but crimes of this magnitude transcend local communities and
have national impact. To underscore the nation's determination to confront bias-motivated
crimes, the federal government must have the opportunity to act in partnership with state
and local officials. Where appropriate, the federal government should have the authority
to take the lead in prosecuting these cases."
Under current Federal law, the government must prove that the crime
occurred because of a person's membership in a protected group, such as race or religion,
and because he/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 victim's sexual orientation, gender, or disability.
"Almost every state has now enacted a hate crime statute -- many
based on an ADL model law," said Mr. Berkowitz and Mr. Foxman. "But less than
half the state laws cover crimes directed at individuals because of their sexual
orientation, gender, or disability. Federal authorities must have jurisdiction to address
those cases in which local authorities are either unable or unwilling to investigate and
The HCPA is sponsored by Reps. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Bill McCollum (R-FL) in the
House and by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Arlen Specter (R-PA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) in
the Senate. The HCPA is strongly supported by President Clinton, the Department of
Justice, twenty-two state Attorneys General, and a broad range of national civil rights
groups, state and local government associations, and law enforcement organizations.
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.