May, 30

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at White House Event on Making Communities Safer, Including the Campuses of HBCUs

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Remarks as Delivered

Madam Vice President, thank you for bringing us all together today. 

This convening could not be more urgent.

Today, 31 FBI Field Offices are working in close coordination with our law enforcement partners across the country to investigate, disrupt, and prosecute the recent threats targeting historically Black colleges and universities.

I am in regular contact with our FBI team about these efforts.

As with any ongoing investigation, I am limited in what I can say about this specific matter.

But allow me to be very clear: at the Justice Department, we believe the time to address illegal threats is when they are made, not after tragedy strikes.

We also know that the threat against HBCUs and their students has deep, historical roots.

The Justice Department was founded during Reconstruction, after the Civil War, with the first principal task of combating those who used violence and threats of violence to prevent Black Americans from exercising their civil rights.

In the over 150 years since the founding of the Department, the threats posed by hate-fueled criminal acts have taken on many different forms. 

But our task remains the same: to use our resources and our legal authorities to prevent and confront bias-motivated violence and threats of violence.

Shortly after the horrific attack in Atlanta one year ago today, I ordered an expedited review of the Department’s effort to combat hate crimes and hate incidents.

As a result of that review, the Department has taken steps to improve incident reporting, community outreach, and training and support of local law enforcement.

The FBI has elevated criminal civil rights violations to its highest threat band. 

And we are using the expertise of our civil rights, national security, and criminal prosecutors to ensure a comprehensive approach to confronting unlawful acts of hate.

As I recently said after the Department obtained hate crime convictions in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery: No one in this country should have to fear hate-fueled violence. No one should fear that they are being attacked or threatened because of what they look like, where they are from, whom they love, or how they worship.

The Justice Department has no tolerance for unlawful acts of hate. 

We will be relentless in our efforts to investigate, disrupt, and prosecute hate-fueled violence and threats of violence.

Thank you all very much.

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