Mourning Tragic Murder of Matthew Shepard ADL Calls for Nationwide Enactment of Hate Crimes Laws
New York, NY, October 14, 1998
Mourning the tragic murder of Matthew Shepard, a
gay student at the University of Wyoming, Howard P. Berkowitz, Anti-Defamation League
(ADL) National Chairman, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, today called for
every state to enact hate crimes laws. The two leaders issued the following statement:
Once again, our nation is mourning a tragedy spawned by bigotry and hate. Once again,
we feel the pain of an innocent victim, murdered because of an irrational prejudice which
tears at the fabric of our society.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Matthew Shepards family and friends at this
difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the Laramie community, with gay and
lesbian communities across this country, and with the community of Americans of all races,
religions, ethnicities and sexual orientations who feel revulsion and profound sorrow at
Matthews cruel death.
We all wish we could turn the clock back, and bring Matthew back to life. Since we
cannot, the least we can do is commit ourselves, locally and nationally, to bringing new
energy and passion to the fight against the cancer of hate which took his life. It is not
a cancer of the body, but rather a cancer in our society. And none of us can sit on the
sidelines thinking "Im glad its not me." The cancer of hate afflicts
us all, and we have to fight it together.
ADL has been a pioneer in drafting and promoting hate crimes laws across the country
since 1981. Forty states have now enacted statutes based on or similar to ADLs model
legislation. The United States Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of
ADLs penalty enhancement approach in 1993. The League has also spearheaded efforts
in Congress to secure passage of Federal hate crimes statutes, including the currently
pending Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
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.