WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) President and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine hosted a national summit on taking the politics out of hate by bringing together Democratic, Republican, and Independent state and territory attorneys general, as well as law enforcement leaders, community advocates, survivors of hate, and historians to address hate and hate-related violence nationwide.
Reported hate crimes reached their highest point in 12 years. Last year, there were 7,759 hate crimes reported to the FBI. In the District, reported hate crimes tripled between 2015 and 2019. Today’s summit aimed to seek solutions to reverse this course, unite attorneys general to combat hate, and make communities safer.
“One of the most patriotic steps we can take as leaders is to continue to build on the great American experiment to form a more perfect union. We must send a clear message that the America we are trying to build will not provide a home for hate. And it takes collective and united leadership to make change,” said AG Racine. “Preventing hate incidents and crimes, and protecting the safety, health, and well-being of our communities should be issues we can all agree on and work together to address. That’s why we’re holding this summit.”
This summit is a key piece of AG Racine’s year-long NAAG Presidential Initiative, The People v. Hate: Standing Up for Humanity, which he launched in December 2020. The initiative aims to raise awareness of hate and bias, prevent hate from taking root in our communities, and support residents who have experienced hate.
Examining the history of hate and learning lessons to impact our future
During the summit, participants examined the history of hate and the lasting legacy of hate on individuals, communities, and the country. They specifically heard from John W. Franklin, a renowned historian, about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. He is also the grandson of a survivor of the Massacre. They heard about the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing in 1963 when members of the Ku Klux Klan set off a bomb that killed four young girls. Former U.S. Senator Doug Jones and former Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley, spoke about their successful efforts over decades to bring the perpetrators of the bombing to justice.
On Friday, the summit will convene at the National Museum for African American History and Culture to hear personal accounts of survival, and gain a better understanding of our nation’s interconnected history of hate as well as our resilience. Sarah Collins-Rudolph, a survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, will provide her firsthand perspective.
Working together on solutions to hate
The summit also included several panel discussions and fireside chats about taking the politics out of hate by coming together and finding real solutions to address hate:
- Community partners spoke about ways advocates can work with attorneys general to fight hate and injustice in local communities. New Jersey Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck and Scott Richman, Anti-Defamation League New York/New Jersey Regional Director, spoke about how their offices collaborate to monitor hate and extremism, hold youth anti-bias training, and report hate crimes. They reinforced the importance of building these types of relationships between attorneys general and community partners early so that if an incident occurs, they are able to quickly work together to address it. Sara Burlingame, Executive Director of Wyoming Equality, spoke about the large impact attorneys general can have when they support community organizations that are advocating for vulnerable populations. She also discussed how her office works with Cara Chambers, Director of the Division of Victim Services at the Office of the Attorney General for Wyoming, to address hate.
- Law enforcement leaders shared best practices they are implementing to address hate, hate crimes, and the legacy of hate in their communities. They discussed model policies, trainings, and initiatives they have developed to address data gaps, increase awareness of hate, weed out extremism, and support those who have experienced hate. Specifically, Louis Dekmar, Chief of Police in LaGrange, Georgia, spoke about how he sought ways to understand the history of racism in the community going back generations and find ways to rebuild trust between community members, especially Black residents, and local law enforcement and help the community heal. Dr. Heidi Beirich, Co-Founder of Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, discussed how she put together a day-long training for law enforcement officers that walks through hate crimes data, signs and symbols of extremism, and policies within departments to address hate and extremism. And Will Johnson, Chief of Police of the BNSF Railway Police Department, spoke about the importance of attorneys general engaging with law enforcement officers, supporting training on addressing hate for everyone involved in law enforcement, and collecting data on hate crimes so law enforcement can provide resources where they are needed to help stop these crimes.
- A hate crime target discussed the importance of accountability and restorative justice to helping address hate and help survivors heal. Taylor Dumpson, a former American University student government president and hate crime target, spoke about her harrowing experience and the importance of avoiding normalizing acts of hate to help prevent them from happening in the future.
Background on AG Racine’s work as part of his NAAG presidential initiative
Earlier this year, AG Racine brought together a group of 35 Republican and Democratic attorneys general to successfully call on Congress to pass the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act – which was then included as part of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act that became law. This bipartisan legislation is critical to helping state and local law enforcement implement the data-driven tools and community resources needed to track and prevent hate crimes which have risen across the country.
In May, AG Racine co-hosted a landmark national convening with Connecticut Attorney General William Tong on countering anti-AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) hate. The convening brought together a broad array of legal and policy experts, leading advocates, business and corporate leaders from across the country, as well as officials from federal, state, and local government to discuss how to combat anti-AAPI hate and offer tangible solutions to address it.
In April, AG Racine hosted a virtual listening session to hear from survivors and relatives of deadly acts of hate. He has also put together resources and best practices to help state attorneys general combat hate.
Below please find statements from many of the individuals who participated in the summit:
“In order to live together, we need to know our own families’ histories and share them with each other. This is the way we learn how similar and different are our challenges in life. I am joining the NAAG Presidential Summit to share my family’s story of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which my grandfather survived a century ago. It is essential to understanding the history of hate in our country.”
- John W. Franklin, Cultural historian, Senior Manager Emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Managing Member of Franklin Global LLC, and grandson of a Tulsa Race Massacre survivor
“Diversity is the strength of America and our challenge, opportunity, and destination is to more effectively bring together the multiethnic family of humankind. Growing up in Tulsa, I learned about the race massacre when I was a teenager. The conspiracy of silence about this horrific crime enabled it to remain outside of the history books for far too long. But we need to recognize our history, no matter how difficult it may be, to form a more perfect union. And I greatly appreciate AG Racine bringing us together today to face that history head on and find real solutions to help combat hate so we can build a stronger future.”
- Former Oklahoma Attorney General Michael Turpen
“Today’s NAAG Presidential Summit focused on fighting hate is an incredibly important conversation about the pivotal role that Attorneys General play in this fight, and ADL is so grateful to Attorney General Racine for convening this group of leaders at this critical moment. Civil rights organizations, such as ADL, often work closely together with Attorneys General as was brought out during my panel at the Summit with Acting New Jersey Attorney General Andrew Bruck. ADL’s relationship with AG Bruck and his office has allowed us to tackle a large number of very important issues together - from mandating the reporting of hate crimes by law enforcement to curbing bias among youth in New Jersey Schools. Moreover, the deep connection that we have built through this work has facilitated a quick and effective response when needed. For example, our very close work in the aftermath of the shooting at the Jersey City Kosher Supermarket in 2019 ensured that the Jewish and broader communities felt heard in the wake of this tragedy.”
- Scott Richman, Anti-Defamation League New York/New Jersey Regional Director
“I want to congratulate National Association of Attorneys General and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine on the upcoming Presidential Summit. AG Racine’s initiative, The People v. Hate: Standing Up for Humanity, could not be more timely. We’ve all seen the rise of hate-driven movements and their violence, whether in the form of domestic terrorism or hate crimes. Addressing this crisis and creating potential solutions is of the utmost importance. I look forward to taking part in the Summit and the solutions that I know it will put forth.”
- Heidi Beirich, Ph.D., Co-Founder of Global Project Against Hate and Extremism
“Our nation is battling two simultaneous and equally virulent epidemics—hate and COVID. Both require us to embrace our shared obligations to one another with empathy, kindness, and humility. I thank Attorney General Racine for bringing us together this week across state and party lines to show what we can accomplish when we set aside the politics of division, disinformation, and hate.”
- Connecticut Attorney General William Tong
“Hate diminishes all of us and perpetuates racial injustices that have been tolerated for too long. I applaud Attorney General Racine for convening a bipartisan group of leaders from around the country to stand together against hate and for our common humanity. Few issues are more important in America today.”
- New Jersey Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck
“I'd like to thank Attorney General Racine for his commitment to this initiative at this critical time when we are seeing increased hate and division among us. I'm pleased my office has the opportunity to participate in this initiative because I believe that all of us, wherever we may be, must fight to stomp out hate in whatever form we see it. It is only through our collective commitment to eliminate hate and refusal to tolerate it that we make true progress as a society.”
- Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill
“As we continue to see an increase of hate crimes around the country, it is crucial that we join together to address the systemic racism, discrimination, and inequities that exist in our society. I want to thank AG Racine for helping to put together this important summit and I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to combat all forms of hate and violence and seek structural solutions to ensure the safety and inclusion of all people.”
- Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey
“Over the last year, millions of Americans took to the streets to protest the killing of people of color and to demand reform and change. As the top law enforcement officer for our respected states we listened. The 'People v. Hate: Standing Up For Humanity' summit is a challenging but necessary subject. If we cannot have these conversations, then we cannot create change for a better society. I applaud Attorney General Racine for his commitment to justice and the hard work of the National Association of Attorneys General.”
- Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford
“It was an honor to attend this week’s NAAG presidential summit. Centering the summit around such an essential issue speaks volumes of Karl Racine's leadership and his legacy as President of the National Association of Attorneys General. Stopping hate and hate-related violence is an undertaking that will require great commitment from us all, and that starts from the top. We must all join hands in protection and solidarity around the marginalized and mistreated among us, and remain steadfast in our commitment to accountability to those who would make them targets of violence or harassment.”
- Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings
“Forums like these are key, but it is so important to keep these conversations going...not just once a year, but always! We can combat hate by challenging it when we see it, by pulling in stakeholders to address it, and by making sure our laws reflect our values as a community, state, and nation. Wyoming appreciates AG Racine's leadership on Combating Hate by making it his Presidential platform.”
- Cara Chambers, Director, Division of Victim Services, Office of the Attorney General for Wyoming
“Every community should strive to create an atmosphere where all people can live free from the fear of being victimized because of hate. By working together, we can achieve this universally common goal.”
- Will Johnson, Chief of Police, BNSF Railway Police Department; current Board of Directors member for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP); and Past Vice President At-Large and Past Chair of the Civil Rights Committee of the IACP