May, 29

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke Delivers Remarks Announcing Accused Tops Shooter Charged with Federal Hate Crimes and Using a Firearm to Commit Murder

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Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Mr. Attorney General, and U.S. Attorney Ross and Associate Attorney General Gupta. Today, I join my colleagues in grieving the innocent victims of this senseless crime and expressing my condolences to their families, and the Buffalo community that has suffered through this traumatic event. I grieve with you as a New Yorker, as a Black woman and as chief federal law enforcement officer for civil rights at the Department of Justice.

Every day, we see evidence that racially-motivated hate crimes are on the rise across our country. According to the FBI’s most recent data, most victims of racially motivated hate crimes are Black. These acts of hate are a stain on our democracy and have no place in our society.

The Civil Rights Division, like the rest of the Justice Department, will not stand by idly in the fight against white supremacist-fueled violence. As the Attorney General has said, we will pursue the perpetrators of hate crimes and hold them accountable. And we will be vigilant in our quest to secure justice for the victims and their families.

Prosecutions alone will not stop the spread of hate. That’s why the Justice Department is also hard at work addressing non-criminal acts of bias that rear their ugly head inside our schools, workplaces and in our neighborhoods. We are also addressing the need for hate crime prevention through education and awareness. This multi-part strategy is critical to eliminating hate, root and branch. 

Today we charge this defendant with violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, alleging he murdered 10 innocent people, and attempted to murder three others, with a firearm because he wanted to kill and injure Black people. 

A core mission of the Civil Rights Division is to fight the scourge of hate crimes – to prevent them, prosecute them and remedy the harms they cause to communities. That is our duty. We intend to fulfill it.

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