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Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT HATE CRIMES PREVENTION ACT OF 2009 -- (House of Representatives - April 29, 2009)

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Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

This legislation will include penalties in the federal code for crimes that are motivated by race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Further, H.R. 1913 allows the Department of Justice to make grants to support State and local programs designed to combat hate crimes, particularly those committed by juveniles. Finally, the bill supports programs to train local law enforcement officers in investigating, prosecuting, and preventing hate crimes. In this way, the bill empowers state and local officials to investigate and prosecute these crimes without limiting their jurisdiction or authority.

I have heard concerns from some of my constituents that this legislation could infringe on the right to free speech. I could never support a bill that does that. In fact, Section 10 of the bill contains a specific exemption that clarifies that speech, no matter how hateful, is not criminalized under this act. Only violent acts by those who willfully cause bodily injury are prohibited. I strongly oppose attempts to limit anyone's right to free speech or put one class of people above another.

While all acts of violence are deplorable, hate crimes are specifically meant to intimidate and frighten an entire group of people because of prejudice on the part of the perpetrator. Violent acts that are meant to terrorize American citizens should not go unpunished.

I urge you to support H.R. 1913.

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