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FBI’s NJ Office Encourages Hate Crime Reporting

When the FBI states that it sees a problem and is devoting serious resources to start getting a better handle on it, you can take that as a reassuring development.

At a press conference at the FBI’s field headquarters in Newark on August 18, Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch, Jr. announced that the FBI is launching a three-month promotion campaign to encourage members of different communities to report hate crimes they’ve seen or experienced. The campaign, “Protecting Our Communities—Together,” urges people to call 1-800-CALL-FBI or go online to tips.fbi.gov.

As he made the announcement, Crouch was accompanied by 11 leaders from different prominent religious, racial, ethnic and sexual identity organizations. The leaders were Ralina Cardona, national vice president of the League of United Latin American Citizens; Leslie Farber, co-chair of the Essex County LGBTQ Advisory Board; Gary Paul Wright, CEO of the African American Office of Gay Concerns; Priti Patel, president of the Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce; Rabbi Moshe Hauer, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union; Bishop Jethro James, representing the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Interfaith Advisory Council; Pastor John Taylor of the Trenton Capital City Community Coalition; Reggie Johnson, president of the Metuchen/Edison/Piscataway branch of the NAACP; Adam Ozdemir, executive director of the Peace Islands Institute; Rick Robinson, chairman of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference on Criminal Justice; and Alana Burman, associate regional director for the Anti-Defamation League’s New York/New Jersey office.

Crouch stated at the press conference: “Civil rights are part of the fabric of our country. Just as the United States is the greatest melting pot in the world, New Jersey is one of the most diverse states. We know there has been an increase in the number of bias crimes in the state, and addressing them is the highest priority of the FBI’s civil rights program.

“The FBI encourages all citizens to report all hate crimes they see or experience. This ad campaign is designed to encourage people to contact the FBI. We know that the majority of hate crimes go unreported. The FBI wants to change that. Hate crimes have a profound impact not only on the victims but also on their communities. So one incident is too many.”

In response to questions from reporters, Crouch shared that the FBI has devoted $50,000 to the ad campaign in Newark alone and that the hotline and website are pre-existing; the promotion campaign is new. He said that the campaign speaks to people who are not sure that what they experienced is something the FBI will handle, saying: “If you think it’s a crime, please report it. We’ll figure out if it meets the legal criteria. And we’ll investigate all incidents and treat those that report them with respect.”

Speaking at the press conference, Rabbi Moshe Hauer stated: “Too many people within our community treat the hate and discrimination they experience as an expected part of life. Until we learn to report these regular incidents as they occur, our law enforcement authorities won’t be able to pursue the culprits, nor will meaningful change occur. The OU welcomes the opportunity to partner with the FBI in this awareness campaign, and we hope that those who experience hate crimes and discrimination will report these incidents.”

Alana Burman of the ADL praised the effort, saying: “The FBI has done a great job of listening to feedback from communities, to prepare for this campaign.” She cited, as an example, the FBI’s translation of campaign materials into a variety of languages. At the press conference, the FBI distributed flyers for the campaign in Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish, Mandarin, Urdu and other languages.

A press release distributed at the press conference stated: “A federal hate crime involves physical harm, threats, or intimidation based in bias towards an individual or group because of race, religion, gender, gender identity, physical limitations, national origin, or sexual orientation.”

Community members should look for ad campaign messages on New Jersey Transit buses, in rail stations, on trains, on billboards along major highways, and in digital ads on different websites. The campaign will run through early November.

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