United Against Hate Pilot Program in Eastern Washington Paves the Way for National Roll Out

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Spokane, Washington – U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref announced today the accomplishments of her office’s pilot outreach program, United Against Hate, which directly connects the United States Attorney’s Office and its local and federal law enforcement partners with a diverse group of community organizations to increase community understanding and reporting of hate crimes and hate incidents. This community outreach program seeks to address the chronic underreporting of hate crimes and hate incidents and build strong relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve to more effectively share resources and respond to potential unlawful acts of hate.

U.S. Attorney Waldref announced the Eastern District’s engagement in the United Against Hate program in March of 2022. In the last few months, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has successfully partnered with several community organizations and houses of worship to discuss how law enforcement responds to reports of hate crimes, hate incidents, and unlawful discrimination. Presenters at United Against Hate events include Assistant United States Attorneys, detectives and crime analysts from the Spokane Police Department, and special agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The United Against Hate programs have taken place  throughout Eastern Washington, including at a Jewish Temple in Spokane, an Islamic Center in Pullman, and a Sikh Temple in Eastern Washington.

Based in part on the success of the United Against Hate program in Eastern Washington, on May 18, 2022, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke formally announced the Department of Justice’s nationwide rollout of the program. U.S. Attorney Waldref was selected to present at the national rollout of United Against Hate today. Yesterday, at that rollout event U.S. Attorney Waldref encouraged other districts around the country to follow Eastern Washington’s lead in proactively reaching out to houses of worship, minority communities, and community organizations on the critical issue of combatting hate crimes and hate incidents.

“Law enforcement has a vital role in protecting the public from hate-motivated offenses.,” said U.S. Attorney Waldref. “By encouraging the reporting of hate crimes and hate incidents, the United Against Hate program provides law enforcement the tools to more effectively combat the uptick in hate-based violence.

The underreporting of hate crimes and hate incidents allows perpetrators to go undetected and un-prosecuted, which allows them to continue to spread their unacceptable messages of hate, fear, and intimidation. The United Against Hate program is designed to ensure that all members of our community feel safe and know that they live in a place where acts of hate will not be tolerated.”

“Hate crimes have no place in our community,” said Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl. “The Spokane Police Department is pleased to partner with the US Attorney’s Office in educating the public about what constitutes a hate crime, how to report one, and how to combat such crimes. Hate crimes are particularly impactful not only because of the harm they cause directly to the victims, but because they also take a substantial emotional toll on victims, families, loved ones and our community. SPD is dedicated to holding accountable those responsible for crimes fueled by prejudice and bias,” said Chief Meidl.

Each United Against Hate presentation discusses vital pieces of information, which include:

‐ What constitute hate crimes or hate incidents and encouraging the public to  always report them to law enforcement

‐ How to report a hate crime or hate incident to law enforcement. For example, to call 911 if there is a crime in progress or any potential immediate threat or danger. Otherwise hate crimes and hate incidents can also be reported to an individual’s local Crime Check (in Spokane, 509-456-2233) or by reporting it to the FBI (by calling 509-458-8100 or submitting tips to www.fbi.gov/tips).

‐ Even when prosecuting a hate crime or hate incident is not viable, the data from such reporting to law enforcement is essential both to investigating and prosecuting related hate crimes by the same individual or group and in determining where, when, and how to best deploy law enforcement resources, such as additional patrols, to help detect and deter hate crimes.

Community members who attended the United Against Hate presentations participate in group discussions and activities and provide the law enforcement panelists with their questions and concerns. Additionally, when appropriate, for United Against Hate presentations in Spokane County the U.S. Attorney’s Office has joined with the Spokane County Human Rights Task Force (SCHRTF), a private non-profit organization. SCHRTF’s Hate Reporting Tool Kit is an online tool for reporting hate crimes and hate incidents and includes an option to report anonymously. The SCHRTF Hate Reporting Tool Kit is found at www.ReportHateBias.org.

“The Spokane County Human Rights Task Force created its Hate Reporting Tool to determine the extent of hate activity occurring in our county in order to provide victim support and targeted outreach programming. The Hate Reporting Tool is simple to access and simple to use,” said Board member, Hershel Zellman. “We are excited to join with law enforcement in promoting the United Against Hate program and emphasize that the information provided through the Hate Reporting Tool is treated confidentially by the Task Force and has no connection to law enforcement,” said Past-President, Dean Lynch.

“My office is thrilled with the excellent reception and impact that our United Against Hate efforts have already had in making our communities in Eastern Washington safer and stronger. These presentations offer panelists and community members the opportunity to share stories, concerns, and understand our shared values for safe neighborhoods to raise our families and the freedom to express religious beliefs without fear,” said U.S. Attorney Waldref. Community members and leaders who are interested in exploring whether to host a United Against Hate presentation are encouraged to contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Rights  Team at USAWAE.CivilRights@usdoj.gov or by leaving a voice mail at (509) 835-6306.

“We cannot bring the full force of the people’s power against hate crimes, hate incidents, and other civil rights violations without individuals being given opportunities to come forward. We encourage anybody in our community to report these concerns. We are all partners in keeping each other safe and building a stronger community that reflects our values of hope and belonging where we protect each other and have a joint mission to pursue justice for all,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office’s online complaint form is available at https://www.justice.gov/usaoedwa/edwa-civil-rights-webpage.The form can be emailed to USAWAE.CivilRights@usdoj.gov, or concerns can be shared by leaving a voice mail for our Civil Rights Team at (509) 835-6306.

United Against Hate presentation photos from outreach to a local Jewish Temple:

Pictured from left to right: Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Frieda Zimmerman, Detective Brian Cestnik Spokane Police Department, FBI Special Agent Ryan Butler, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Fruchter, Spokane PD Sargent Zachary Dahle, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tyler Tornabene, Spokane PD Senior Crime and Intelligence Analyst Thomas Michaud, and Hershel Zellman board member Spokane County Human Rights Task Force.

Pictured: Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Fruchter

Pictured from left to right: Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Frieda Zimmerman, Spokane PD Senior Crime and Intelligence Analyst Thomas Michaud, and Spokane PD Sargent Zachary Dahle.

Pictured from left to right: Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Fruchter, Spokane County Human Rights Task Force board member Hershel Zellman, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Frieda Zimmerman.

Photo from U.S. Attorney’s outreach to an Eastern Washington Sikh Temple:

Pictured: Assistant United States Attorneys Tyler Tornabene (left) and Dan Fruchter (right)

Photo from U.S. Attorney’s and FBI Outreach to a Pullman Islamic Center:

Pictured: FBI Special Agent Christian Parker (left) and Assistant United States Attorney Tyler Tornabene (right)

Pictured: U.S. Attorney Waldref speaking at World Refugee Day in Spokane