In line with President Joe Biden’s aim to crack down on hate crimes across the nation, the FBI office in Anchorage has joined a national campaign to “build public awareness of hate crimes and to encourage reporting to law enforcement.”
An Oct. 4 notice from Anchorage FBI Public Affairs Officer Chloe Matin says the campaign will include a statewide PR push on television, radio and websites in hopes of increasing hate crime reports.
“All Alaskans should be able to thrive in our communities without fear that their skin color, what they believe, or who they love, makes them a target for violence,” said Antony Jung, special agent in charge of the FBI Anchorage Field Office. “The FBI hopes this campaign will encourage victims and witnesses to come forward, which will strengthen our ability to solve hate crimes, bring criminals to justice, and provide support to victims.”
According to the FBI notice, hate crimes are criminal offenses that are “motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”
With regards to hate crime allegations, critics note the problem of lumping “sexual orientation and gender identity” in with objective and immutable classifications like race, sex and national origin when prosecuting hate crimes. A key concern is that such legislation often uses a person’s religious views about traditional marriage and human sexuality to increase sentences when a crime is committed.
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Others note that the focus should be on the crime itself, not religious, political or social views that the government deems unacceptable.
This latest push to increase hate crime reporting comes on the heels of U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland directing the FBI and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to investigate alleged threats against school board officials by parents who are upset by leftist curriculum, COVID shutdowns and mask mandates in local schools.
Earlier this year, the Dept. of Justice gave the City of Juneau a $34,000 grant to train local police officers on how to identify and fight hate crime. It is part of a nationwide push from the Biden Administration to re-educate law enforcement agencies to eliminate behavior that it considers “rooted in hate.”
According to the FBI’s 2019 statistics, there were only 11 hate crimes reported throughout Alaska in 2019.