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A Prison Term and an Indictment for Hate Crimes
By Daniel Hoffman | November 4, 2021 2:29 pm

Two separate cases have put a spotlight this week on the Department of Justice’s efforts to prosecute hate crimes and civil right violations.

The first case involved a 24-year-old man, sentenced on Monday to nine years in prison and three years of supervised released in connection with a fire set in 2008 at an African-American Church in Massachusetts.

In another case, three men were indicted on Wednesday for burning a cross in the yard of an African-American resident of Salado, Ark., in August.

The FBI, which investigated both cases, said they reflect the administration’s emphasis on civil rights enforcement.

“We are here to help people who have been the victim of an atrocious crime, whether it’s police brutality or a church arson. If we don’t do it, there’s no one else who will”, Cynthia M. Deitle, unit chief for the FBI’s civil rights program, declared to the Washington Post.

In October 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, legislation that protects people who are attacked because of their sexual orientation, gender or disability.

The law made the most significant changes to federal hate crimes law since the approval of a 1968 bill that covered crimes carried out on the basis of religion, race, color or national origin.

Justice Department officials are being trained across the country to enforce the law.

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