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U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch called on civilians to continue to report hate crimes and incidents of harassment and intimidation Friday.
“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,” she said in a video statement on hate crimes in the United States.
The video spoke to the FBI’s hate crime statistics from 2015, released earlier this week, which documented a 7% rise in hate crimes last year, with incidents targeting Muslims jumping 67 percent.
Hate crimes escalated to 5,850 from 5,479 last year, according to the bureau’s latest data. And anti-Muslim hate crime was at its highest level since the September 2001 terrorist attacks.
Reports of hate crimes and harassment also spiked in the week since Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, says many included references to Trump or his campaign. Some reports have also been discredited or proven false.
“Beyond these 2015 statistics, I know that many Americans are concerned by a spate of recent news reports about alleged hate crimes and harassment,” Lynch said, also noting that the numbers are likely much higher, as many people do not report these crimes out of shame or fear.
She praised both local law enforcement and the Department of Justice for ensuring that hate crimes are reported and accurately prosecuted as well as an anti-hate crime law passed seven years ago. Lynch also looked forward to how much more work must be done.
“That work is not just about enforcing the law,” Lynch said. “It’s about staying true to our highest ideals and most cherished principles. It’s about making sure that all Americans receive the protection of the law. And it’s about giving real meaning to our shared belief that all people are created equal.”