Booker Vows to Combat National Uptick in Hate Crimes

NEWARK, N.J. (CN) – Days after he spoke out against the rising tide of racist violence, U.S. Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Cory Booker said Thursday he would create an office of the White House to right America’s course. 

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks about gun violence and white supremacy in the sanctuary of Mother Emanuel AME on Aug. 7, 2019, in Charleston, S.C. The church has become synonymous with hate-fueled attacks on people of faith, where nine black Bible study participants were slain in a 2015 racist attack. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

Likening his plan to offices that presidents created in the past to address various national threats such as the AIDS epidemic, the New Jersey senator said a Booker administration would feature a White House Office on Hate Crimes and White Supremacist Violence.

Booker vowed as well to make lynching a federal crime, to organize an advisory community group, and to mandate better data-collection practices and reporting on hate crimes.

In addition to provide training for officers to investigate such crimes, Booker also wants more staffing in the Department of Justice’s civil rights division, saying victims of hate crimes need these steps so they feel safe coming forward.

“Dr. King once said that ‘It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me,’” Booker said. “So in my administration, we will use the full force of the presidency to combat hate crimes and root out white supremacist threats wherever they arise.”

To tackle hate online while also protecting people’s First Amendment rights, Booker said he would up Department of Justice resources and partner with social-media platforms. 

Booker said Thursday’s proposal builds on his gun-violence prevention plan, which he calls “the most sweeping put forth by a presidential candidate.’ 

The policy proposals follow Booker’s speech last week at the historically black church Emanuel AME in Charleston, S.C., which was the site of a 2015 mass shooting by white supremacist Dylann Roof. Nine black parishioners were killed and three more injured in the prayer-service hate crime. 

“White supremacy has always been a problem in our American story — if not always at the surface, then lurking not so far beneath it,” Booker said in his remarks last week. 

“We have seen it from slavemasters who stole and pillaged black bodies for profit to demagogues throughout generations who stoked racist and anti-immigrant hatred, often for votes, and then enshrined this bigotry into our laws. And, yes, racist violence has always been a part of the American story. … To say this is to speak the truth plainly — because without the truth there can be no reconciliation.”

Booker’s newest plan follows a mass shooting in the heavily Latino city of El Paso, Texas. Patrick Crusius, the white supremacist who surrendered to authorities after the attack, has been charged with killing 22 and injuring more than two dozen after posting an anti-immigrant screed online. 

In New York — where anti-Semitic violence and threats have driven an uptick in hate crimes the last two years — the New York Police Department said this week it is adding resources and investigators to track increased threats against the city by white supremacists. 

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