Today, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, joined by numerous co-sponsors, introduced the Hate Crimes Reporting Act of 2014 in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Act directs the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to prepare an update to its 1993 report, "The Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crimes." The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) has advocated for an update to this report as a critical component of its campaign against hate speech in the media for many years.
"Twenty-one years is long enough to wait for an update to a report that explores outdated technologies such as 'computer bulletin boards' as conduits for hate speech. Especially as the underlying problem studied - hate crimes against vulnerable communities - is far from being adequately addressed in this country." said NHMC's Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Jessica J. González. "We applaud Congressman Jeffries for his leadership and courage in taking on this important issue. We look forward to working with Congressman Jeffries and his dedicated staff on making sure that this legislation is embraced and, ultimately, passed."
In recent days, Congressman Jeffries' office has received an outpouring of support for his bill. On Friday, he received a support letter from the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of the 36 preeminent Latino civil rights and public policy groups in the country. On Monday, he received a letter of support signed by more than 40 public interest and civil rights groups representing diverse constituents, such as the NAACP, GLAAD, the National Congress of American Indians, the Arab American Institute, the Anti-Defamation League, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, Free Press Action Fund, the National Organization for Women, and many more.
Advocacy groups applauded this move as an important step towards ensuring all Americans are protected:
"Hate speech harms the vulnerable and undermines the fabric of civil society. It is a problem that has gone unaddressed for far too long. I commend Congressman Jeffries for his leadership on this pressing issue."
Former FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps, Special Advisor, Media and Democracy Reform Initiative at Common Cause
"Since the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11, members of the Arab American community have fallen victim to more hate crimes and discrimination. The 'Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014,' introduced by Congressman Hakeem Jeffries is an important piece of legislation that will provide clarity on the role and usage of telecommunication tools in advocating and encouraging crimes of hate. This bill is vital to ensure our communities are protected from acts of violence encouraged on the Internet, television or radio."
Dr. James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute.
"We applaud the introduction of the Hate Crimes Reporting Act of 2014. Studying hate speech in the digital age is a critical step to address and prevent the harms that members of the Asian American community have suffered due to hatred and intolerance."
Mee Moua, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
Other organizations signing the letter supporting the Hate Crimes Reporting Act of 2014 include: American Indians in Film & Television, Anti-Defamation League, Arab American Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, Center for Media Justice, Center for New Community, Center for Rural Strategies, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Common Cause, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Family Equality Council, Free Press Action Fund, Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), GLAAD, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), Human Rights Campaign, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Marriage Equality USA, Media Action Center, Media Alliance, Media Literacy Project, Media Mobilizing Project, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), NAACP, National Alliance of Latin American & Caribbean Communities (NALACC), National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC), National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Congress of American Indians, National Council for Jewish Women, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, National Hispanic Media Coalition, National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP), National Organization for Women (NOW), National Puerto Rican Coalition, Inc., National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), Prometheus Radio Project, Public Knowledge, Southern Poverty Law Center, The TransLatin@ Coalition, Transgender Law Center, United Church of Christ, OC Inc., United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI).
Many of the groups listed have joined NHMC in its advocacy on this issue for many years. In the past, this action has also been supported by some of the titans of Congress to include then-Congressman Markey, Congressman Dingell, Senator Menendez, the late Senator Inouye, and others.