March 21, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: media@dcaclu.org

Washington - The American Civil Liberties Union cheered Representative John Conyers (D-MI) for introducing H.R.1592, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007. The bill would permit federal law enforcement to investigate and prosecute local crimes in which the victim was selected due to the person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

"The ACLU believes we need a stronger federal response to criminal civil rights violations with clear protections for free speech and free association. As introduced, the bill includes an important provision protecting 1st Amendment rights, seeking to punish acts of discrimination, not bigoted beliefs.

The bill will expand the ability of federal law enforcement to step in and prosecute hate crimes when state and local governments are unwilling or unable. Too often, we’ve seen hate crimes go unpunished due to inadequate resources or a bias against the victim. At the same time, we also believe that these prosecutions should be based on a defendant’s actions, not on his or her beliefs or organizational memberships, unless they’re directly related to the crime.

"We urge Rep. Conyers’ colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this important legislation."

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