The House Judiciary Committee will look into rising rates of hate crimes and white nationalism in the U.S. at a hearing on Tuesday, April 9.
After the midterm elections last year, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the committee who was then the ranking member, promised to hold hearings in the new Congress on the rise of racially and religiously motivated violence.
The committee will “examine the causes of racial and religious violence, assess the adequacy of federal hate crimes statutes, and scrutinize targeted domestic surveillance of specific groups,” Nadler wrote in a letter last November to the Homeland Security Department, Justice Department and FBI.
The number of incidents involving hate crimes increased for a third straight year in 2017, according to FBI data released In November. Hate crime incidents rose by 17 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. From 2015 to 2016, the FBI reported a 5 percent increase.
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Most of the 7,175 cases in 2017 involved race-based bias, though there were at least 1,564 cases that involved bias against certain religions. People were targeted for their sexual orientation in 1,130 cases.
The FBI’s findings were released less than a month after a gunman killed 11 people celebrating Shabbat at a synagogue in Pittsburgh — the most deadly slaying of Jews in U.S. history.
Nadler, who is Jewish, told Roll Call in an interview last year that, as part of his committee’s hearings on hate-fueled violence, he wants to examine “the extent to which [the rise in hate crimes] correlates with the president’s rhetoric and coddling of white supremacists.”
Some Democrats have said they believe Trump’s campaign rhetoric from 2016, and his response to the violence that broke out at a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, has contributed to emboldening people to commit hate crimes.
For nearly two decades, counterterrorism forces in the U.S. largely ignored the rise of militant far-right extremism, The New York Times reported.
At the April 9 hearing, lawmakers will “examine hate crimes,” the “impact white nationalist groups have on American communities,” and the “spread of white identity ideology,” according to a tweet from the Judiciary Committee Democrats on Thursday.
The hearing will also “foster ideas about what social media companies can do to stem white nationalist propaganda and hate speech online,” the committee tweeted.