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Sen. Coons joins Senate examination of hate crime

Delaware Public Media

Sen. Chris Coons and members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee questioned a panel of witnesses Tuesday about the government’s response to a rise in hate crimes.


During the hearing, Sen. Coons asked the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Joseph Greenblatt, what the government can do to prevent bomb threats at places of worship. 


“It starts with making sure law enforcement is adequately trained to provide support to houses of worships and other faith-based centers, be they JCC’s or Islamic centers, etc,” Greenblatt said.  


A Jewish Community Center in Wilmington has had four bomb threats since the beginning of the year.


?Coons agreed additional law enforcement training for things like bias-free policing and more timely investigation would help help solve hate crimes. 


Greenblatt added it would also help if local and state agencies had additional resources to prosecute hate crimes.


He and other panel members agree hate crime reporting needs to be mandatory in all states, instead of voluntary.

Coons also criticized President Trump in the hearing for sending mixed messages about wanting to curb hate crimes.  


He said it’s counterproductive for the U.S. Attorney General to be pursuing hate crimes while the President spreads a message of discrimination.  


“Candidate-Trump, in rally after rally, made statements about a Muslim ban and immigrants or people of minority faiths that I think led to an inflaming of passions in an unconstructive way,” Coons said.


Coons added Steve Bannon’s presence as a prominent cabinet member is also contributing to the President’s mixed messaging.


Bannon is the former publisher of the Breitbart News Network, which has been criticized as a platform for the white nationalist “alt-right” movement.


Trump has publicly condemned hate crimes, most prominently when he denounced threats on Jewish Community Centers in his first address to Congress.


Greenblatt said one of the best ways for reducing hate crimes is for lawmakers to immediately denounce them in the wake of attacks.

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