Herring says this package of bills comes in response to rise in white supremacist violence and hate crimes in Virginia and around the country; roundtable discussion series to be held across Virginia to discuss the issue and legislation.
today unveiled a package of legislation to protect Virginians from the rise in hate crimes and white supremacist violence occurring in Virginia and around the country. Attorney General Herring’s bills will update the Commonwealth’s hate crime and domestic terrorism laws, protect Virginians from violence and intimidation by hate groups and white supremacists, and make it harder for hate groups and white supremacists to threaten, intimidate, or hurt Virginians with firearms. Over the last 5 years, hate crimes in Virginia have risen by about 65 percent, and in 2017 alone, hate crimes increased by nearly 50 percent.
“In Virginia and across the country we are seeing hate turn deadly with frightening frequency. It is well past time to acknowledge the threat posed by hate and white supremacist violence and take action to stop it,” said Attorney General Herring. “We have to make it absolutely clear that white supremacist and extremist violence will not be tolerated in Virginia, and we need to do more than just say it. We have to pair our words with action. We must give our law enforcement agencies the tools they need to identify and prevent acts of violence and threats to our communities, and we must make it clear to vulnerable communities that they will be protected and cared for because they are important parts of our Virginia family.
“Over the past several sessions I have introduced legislation to address the rise in hate crimes and white supremacist violence, but nothing has been done and the threat continues to grow. That must end.
“I’m putting these ideas forward and convening these roundtables because it’s time for action. I will do everything I can and work with anyone who wants to ensure that all Virginians are protected from hate and violence, no matter what they look like, how they worship, where they come from, or who they love.”
A recently released report from the Virginia State Police shows that hate crimes in Virginia rose by nearly 50 percent from 2016 to 2017. Over the last 5 years, hate crimes in Virginia have risen by about 65 percent. Last year there were a total of 202 hate crimes in the state, including 38 racially-motivated assaults, 44 racially-motivated acts of vandalism/property destruction, and 32 acts of religious-motivated vandalism/property destruction.
- Leesburg, November 27thAlexandria, December 3rdRichmond, December 4thCharlottesville, December 5thNorfolk, December 6thRoanoke, December 19thAttorney General Herring has been working for years to address the rise in hate crimes and white supremacist violence. Two years ago, he launched www.NoHateVA.com to give vulnerable communities more information and resources, and introduced legislation to update the definition of hate crime to include gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and asked the General Assembly for authority to prosecute hate crimes. Last year, he had two bills in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville to combat white supremacist gangs and militias that commit acts of violence and intimidation.