Department of Justice issues statement on COVID-19 related hate crime prosecution

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FILE – In this June 14, 2018, file photo, the FBI seal is seen before a news conference at FBI headquarters in Washington. A former FBI lawyer was sentenced to probation for altering a document the Justice Department relied on during its surveillance of a Donald Trump aide during the Russia investigation. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The Department of Justice Department “will vigorously enforce” laws relating to hate crimes, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Pamela Karlan said in a statement Wednesday.

The announcement comes as Karlan says the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increase in hate crimes, specifically those targeting Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and businesses. Karlan says Black, Indigenous, Latino and Pacific Islander communities as well as those with disabilities have suffered disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 related deaths, infections and hospitalization.

“The Department of Justice will vigorously enforce Federal civil rights as we continue the process of national reckoning, recovery and healing,” Karlan wrote. “Civil rights protections and responsibilities still apply, even during emergencies. They cannot be waived. Federal agencies, state and local governments and recipients of federal financial assistance are an integral part of our shared effort to uphold civil rights.”

In the statement, Karlan provided a list of principles to assist the agencies in meeting nondiscrimination obligations.

Among them is the enforcement of laws prohibiting discrimination, ensuring equal access for people with disabilities and reduction of learning loss for vulnerable students.

Read the full statement here.

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