Readout of Justice Department Leadership’s Meetings with Law Enforcement and Community Leaders
This week, Justice Department leaders met with law enforcement and community leaders at a time of increased threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities across the country. The Department remains vigilant in combating threats against Americans based on their religion, race, color, ethnicity, or national origin.
“In this heightened threat environment, the partnerships between the Department of Justice, state and local law enforcement, and the communities we serve matter more than ever,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “That is why, this week, the Department held meetings with law enforcement and community leaders to discuss what they are seeing on the ground and how we can best support them. In these conversations, I reiterated that the Justice Department is committed to protecting our communities from hate-fueled violence. The Department will continue bringing together stakeholders to support our shared goal of preventing, disrupting, and prosecuting illegal acts of hate fueled by antisemitism, Islamophobia, or anti-Arab bias.”
Today, Attorney General Garland, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke, Acting Community Relations Service Director Justin Lock, and other Department officials met with Jewish community leaders in Washington, D.C. The leaders expressed their concerns about the significant increase in threats against Jewish community members, organizations, and businesses over the past month. Department officials discussed their continued commitment to protecting Jewish communities and highlighted recent examples of prosecutions against individuals for threatening or attempting to harm Jewish people across the country.
Also today, in Brooklyn, New York, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco joined U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York for a roundtable discussion with local Jewish leaders. Deputy Attorney General Monaco emphasized that the Justice Department’s top priority is keeping the American people safe, and that the Department will use every available tool to work with partners across the country to combat hate.
These meetings come as there has been a significant increase in the volume and frequency of threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities across the country. During the meetings, Department leadership stressed that no one in the United States should have to live in fear of violence because of where they or their family comes from or because of how they worship.
On Monday, Attorney General Garland and Associate Attorney General Gupta met with community leaders before the Civil Rights Division’s quarterly interagency meeting hosted by Assistant Attorney General Clarke with leaders representing Muslim, Arab, Sikh, South Asian, and Hindu communities. The meeting was co-hosted by Officer Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. The Department’s Civil Rights Division first began convening regular meetings with Muslim, Arab, Sikh, South Asian, and Hindu organizations following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The organizations asked the Justice Department and other federal agencies to continue to take actions to protect their communities from unlawful discrimination and violence.
Also on Monday, Attorney General Garland, Deputy Attorney General Monaco, and Associate Attorney General Gupta hosted the Law Enforcement Quarterly Meeting, at which representatives from the Justice Department’s law enforcement and grantmaking components together with their state and local law enforcement partners, discussed the increase in threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities. Attorney General Garland emphasized to the group that in moments of crisis, strong partnerships and trust between law enforcement and communities are essential and that successfully preventing, disrupting, and prosecuting illegal acts of hate requires close coordination across government and across the country.
The meeting also included discussions regarding violent crime and challenges in recruitment and retention of law enforcement officers. Director Steven M. Dettelbach of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) discussed the work ATF is doing to combat gun violence, as well as new technologies, such as ghost guns and machine gun conversion devices, that exacerbate the threat posed by illegal firearms. The Department continues to implement strategies to combat violent crime. A cornerstone of this effort is providing state and local partners with resources and support to help keep their communities safe. In light of that goal, the Justice Department announced on Thursday that Department investments in community safety have reached over $5.6 billion.
Earlier this month, Attorney General Garland directed the FBI and all 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country to work with local law enforcement and community leaders to protect vulnerable communities in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel.
Last week, the Department hosted a virtual forum to highlight the successful implementation of the United Against Hate (UAH) initiative in all 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and discuss efforts to combat unlawful acts of hate. In conjunction with the event, the Civil Rights Division released a document highlighting the reach of the UAH program in its first year and examples of its impact in communities across the country. These include enhancing coordination on responding to threats to religious communities and sparking the creation of new initiatives at local colleges and similar institutions.
On Oct. 30, the Department announced that it is awarding over $38 million in grants to support the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes, increase hate crimes reporting, expand victim services, and improve community awareness.