On Monday, the FBI released its hate crime statistics for 2015, which noted, among other changes, a 6% increase in bias crime in general. That includes a whopping 67% increase in reported bias attacks against Muslims compared to 2014 on top of smaller increases in attacks on Jewish, black, and LGBT Americans. Four days later, on Friday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch released a video statement on the Justice Department’s YouTube channel addressing the news:
“These numbers should be deeply sobering for all Americans,” Lynch said early in her address. “[The 6% increase] does not account for the many hate crimes that may go unreported out of shame or fear.” From there, Lynch moved to more recent figures charting bias crime allegations since Election Day. The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported it has received over 400 reports of what it terms “hateful intimidation and harassment.”
“The FBI is assessing, in conjunction with federal prosecutors, whether particulate incidents constitute violations of federal law,” Lynch further explained. “We need you to continue to report these incidents to local law enforcement as well as the Justice Department, so that our career investigators and prosecutors can take action to defend your rights.” At that point, she directed viewers to the website for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ to obtain more information, including how to contact the department.
Lynch also noted that the seventh anniversary of the passage of The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 passed last month. “But despite the tremendous progress that we’ve made, we cannot lose sight of how much remains to be done. Nearly two decades after Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd Jr. were brutally murdered, simply for being who they were, we still have so far to go, to ensure that every American can live free from the fear of violence or harassment based on what they look like, how they worship, or who they love.”
On a day where there’s uncertainty over the future of the DOJ due to Jeff Sessions being names U.S. Attorney General, Lynch had a clear message to close her address. “I want the American people to know that as long as that work is necessary, the Department of Justice will continue to carry it forward.”