Maura Healey, Marty Walsh push for No Hate Act, say it would help fight hate crimes

Massachusetts Attorney Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh on Monday pushed for the passage of a federal bill that’s intended to improve hate crime reporting as many cities around the country did not log hate crimes in the latest FBI data.

Healey and Walsh joined a coalition of 19 area social justice, civil rights and business organizations to announce support for the U.S. Senate to pass the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer No Hate Act.

The leaders during an online press briefing cited a rise in hate crimes in the U.S., and noted the nationwide movement to address racial injustice in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd — a black man killed by a white Minneapolis Police officer.

“In this moment, I think we need to do everything we can on the local, state and federal level to address systemic racism, and to continue the fight to secure basic human rights,” Healey said.

“In meeting this time, we really need to do things like get behind the legislation and force the Senate and others to act to get this done,” she said.

The legislation would improve hate crime reporting through law enforcement training, reporting hotlines and public educational forums on hate crimes, said leaders of American Jewish Committee New England, The Commonwealth Seminar and Get Konnected!, who are pushing for the bill.

Reporting hate crimes to the FBI is voluntary, noted Robert Leikind of AJC New England. More than 80 cities of over 100,000 residents, including Lowell, did not report hate crimes to the FBI in 2018, he said.

The No Hate Act wouldn’t end hate crimes, Leikind said, but it would “improve our capacity to fight hate crimes.”

The legislation would result in grants for states to establish hate crime reporting hotlines. It would also authorize funding for state and local law enforcement to develop policies on identifying, investigating and reporting hate crimes.

“Ultimately, it’s about making sure that we are all fundamentally in this time, particularly in this time, grappling with and reckoning with the systemic racism that has pervaded all institutions and aspects of society for far too long,” Healey said.

The bill is a “meaningful step in my view that has power to hold perpetrators accountable,” she said.

The U.S. needs this legislation, especially during a time in which hate has been “given a megaphone” on a national stage, Walsh said.

“The moment of urgency we’re in right now demands it certainly,” he said.

“We cannot let this moment or this movement pass us by,” Walsh said. “We need to demand action right now, as we are today. We must do everything that we can to stop hate in its track and stand up for what is right.”

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