Posted by Kai Wiggins on September 22, 2017 in Blog

To read the letter AAI signed onto with over 80 other organizations to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, click here.

We live in a nation bent on progress at the outset, and yet so often we fall short of our founding principles. For reasons abound, we have made promises we have not kept. 

On Thursday, June 29, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department made a promise. Speaking before dozens of civil rights, religious, education and professional organizations at the Department’s Hate Crimes Summit, Sessions vowed to take action: 

“I pledge to you: As long as I am Attorney General, the Department of Justice will continue to protect the civil rights of all Americans – and we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in our country.”

Furthermore, the Attorney General promised he would listen. He pointed to his creation of a subcommittee on hate crimes within the Justice Department’s new Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety as proof. As for the aims of the summit, participants’ feedback would inform both the subcommittee’s recommendations to the Task Force and its preparations for a comprehensive hate crimes report, to be published in January 2018.

As one of the groups in attendance, AAI raised some important concerns in response to Attorney General Sessions’ address, including:

1) The flawed and tacitly racist, anti-immigrant design of the broader Task Force itself, and;

2) Actions of the Trump Administration that undercut the subcommittee’s stated mission, in addition to the President’s failure to consistently advance justice and defend the constitutional values of equality.

Since the conclusion of the Hate Crimes Summit our concerns have only deepened. The appointment of unqualified or inexperienced officials to important civil and human rights-related posts in our government, the implementation of policies that threaten the LGBTQ community, namely transgendered individuals, the rescission of DACA, and the President’s refusal to categorically denounce white supremacist violence in Charlottesville and elsewhere, seem to undercut the promises our Attorney General made in June.

Despite these concerns and many others, we remain hopefully committed to the ideals of progress. Progress requires hope, but hope is naught without persistent action. That is why AAI signed onto a letter with over 80 other organizations to John Gore, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, outlining specific recommendations for the Department in the wake of white supremacist violence in Charlottesville and a nationwide surge in hate crime.

Our government must do more to protect its citizens from hate violence. There are decisive steps the Civil Rights Division, the Justice Department, and this administration can take to make real and effective progress, to restore faith in our institutions, and to defend and protect the civil rights of all Americans.

Time is passing. We expect our government to uphold its promise.