Pelosi: 'Hate Crimes Have No Place in America'
Washington, D.C.-House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today on co-sponsoring H.R. 4204, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2004, which Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) introduced yesterday:
"I am proud to join Congressman Conyers, the Ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, as a co-sponsor of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2004.
"When individuals are targeted for violence because of their race, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, gender, or disability, the assailant intends to send a message to all members of that community. That message is-you are not welcome. Passage of this bill would counter this message of intimidation with a strong statement that our society does not condone and will not tolerate hate-based violence. All Americans have a right to feel safe.
"FBI statistics continue to demonstrate a high level of hate crimes in our country. Current law limits federal jurisdiction to 'federally protected' activities such as voting and does not permit federal jurisdiction over violent crimes motivated by bias against the victim's sexual orientation, gender or disability.
"When state and local law enforcement do not have the capacity to prosecute hate crimes, this legislation would permit federal prosecution regardless of whether a federally protected activity is involved. This legislation would also allow federal jurisdiction over crimes motivated by bias against sexual orientation, gender or disability. It increases the ability of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to work together to solve and prevent a wide range of violent hate crimes.
"Hate crimes have no place in America. The brutal murders of James Byrd in Texas, Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, Waqar Hasan in Texas, and Gwen Araujo in California serve as a constant reminder that Congress must provide the tools to prevent and prosecute such crimes."