Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday announced new initiatives aimed at combating hate crimes, days after 10 Black people were killed in the Buffalo mass shooting which authorities have described as "racially motivated violent extremism."
Garland unveiled the plan at an event marking the first anniversary of President Joe Biden signing into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which includes provisions from the Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer NO HATE Act to boost reporting of such crimes and law enforcement training. The legislation was enacted to help combat the rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans during the pandemic.
Among the Department of Justice initiatives is a plan to team up with the Department of Health and Human Services to establish new guidance aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes, the appointment of a full-time language access coordinator at the agency, and $10 million in grants to help communities confront as well as increase reporting of such crimes to the FBI.
The announcement was planned before the shooting on Saturday at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, in which 10 Black people were killed by a white gunman.
The 18-year-old suspect, who was taken into custody and arraigned on one count of first-degree murder, is alleged to have written a document that included plans to target Black people and repeatedly referred to the “great replacement theory” — the false idea among white supremacists that there’s an effort to replace white Americans with immigrants, Jews and other minority groups.
Garland on Friday called the shooting “a painful reminder of the singular impact that hate crimes have not only on individuals but on entire communities.”
"We are deploying every resource we have to ensure accountability for this terrible attack, to pursue justice for the victims and their families and to provide support to a grieving community," he said.
Meanwhile, a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism this year found that hate crimes against the Asian American community in major U.S. cities exploded in 2021, increasing by 339 percent.