On Wednesday, November 20, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, The Leadership Conference Education Fund, families of Khalid Jabara and Matthew Shepard, and the civil rights community convened to discuss the epidemic of hate in our country and tangible actions for reform. A facilitated discussion led by The Leadership Conference and The Education Fund President and CEO Vanita Gupta commemorated the 10-year anniversary of the passage of the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act and addressed the need to pass the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act.
Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer, after whom the bill was named, were both killed by men who were prosecuted for hate crimes, yet their murders were not reported as such to the FBI. The Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act is bipartisan and bicameral legislation that would improve federal reporting of hate crimes to prevent similar omissions and strengthen police responses to incidents of hate.
The event featured remarks from Vanita Gupta; mother of Heather Heyer, Susan Bro; and sister of James Byrd, Jr., Louvon Harris. Remarks were followed by a candid conversation with Judy and Dennis Shepard, and Haifa and Rami Jabara.
“Every person in our country should feel safe while going about their normal daily life—going to worship, to school, to the mall,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference and The Education Fund. “But too many people are the victims of hate crimes and violence. The work to fight hate must be bigger than any one political party, and Congress must pass the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act.”
“Everyone in this country must be made aware of, and educated on, the need to strengthen current hate crime laws and to pass additional legislation. Stopping the increase of hate speech, the rising number of hate crimes against all marginalized communities, and the constant rise of new hate groups must be a top priority in this country,” said Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard and co-founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation.
“In a world where data and metrics can be easily obtained, tracked, and analyzed, there is absolutely no excuse for the absence or underreporting of the lives impacted by hate. Congress must pass the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act to address this obvious deficiency,” said Rami Jabara, brother of Khalid Jabara.
In conjunction with the event, The Leadership Conference designed and installed an interactive mural the day before to shed light on the need for real change in federal hate crimes laws and documentation. Displayed at Columbus Circle on Capitol Hill and emblematic of the vigils organized in the wake of too many hate-fueled tragedies, the interactive mural allowed passersby to pick flowers adorned with advocacy messages aimed at supporting the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act.
For more information about The Leadership Conference’s work in fighting hate and bias, please visit whitesupremacykills.org.