Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Monday that the Justice Department has launched a website consolidating information for reporting hate crimes.
Rosenstein made the announcement during a roundtable discussion with law enforcement officials in Washington, D.C., following the deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The man arrested in connection with the shooting, in which 11 people died, appeared to have a history of using anti-Semitic rhetoric on social media and is being charged with federal hate crimes.
The website is a “one-stop portal” with information for law enforcement, prosecutors and the general public to learn about all the resources available to report hate crimes, Rosenstein said. The site is part of an ongoing effort within the Department of Justice to expand protections against hate crimes and to bridge gaps in hate crime reporting.
In 2016, 88 percent of agencies that report hate crimes to the FBI reported zero hate crimes that year, Rosenstein said. He said that statistic demonstrates a lack of awareness in how to report hate crimes rather than a lack of them.
Congress expanded protections for religious organizations earlier this year by including buildings such as religiously affiliated schools and hospitals to receive the same hate-crime protection as houses of worship
During his briefing, Rosenstein talked at length about the United States’ history of protecting religious freedoms, mentioning a letter by George Washington assuring the Jewish community in Newport, R.I., of the nascent country’s freedom of religion.
“The tragic attack on the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue just two days ago serves as a stark reminder of the need to protect all Americans against hate crimes,” Rosenstein said. “In mourning today, we also rededicate ourselves to our commitment to preventing hate crimes.”