The Department of Homeland Security has pledged to support from the federal level on down investigations into crimes that include numerous bomb threats to Jewish institutions nationwide and shootings of Indian nationals.
Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, in a Thursday statement, condemned the rise of what he called “apparent hate-inspired attacks and harassment against individuals and communities,” calling them “unacceptable.”
Read Kelly’s full statement below.
DHS’ Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties will boost its outreach to affected communities, and the its Office of International Engagement will work with the governments of U.S.-based foreign nationals who have been affected.
A DHS spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
Less than a day before Kelly’s announcement, more than 100 Jewish Community Centers around the nation had written to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to express their frustration at the lack of progress in the investigation.
The federal government has been criticized for what some say is a sluggish response to the threats. Since January, there have been more than 110 bomb threats to Jewish institutions, including children’s museums, day schools and JCCs.
Adam Purinton, 51, of Olathe, Kansas, is facing trial in the bar shooting as the FBI investigates. Last week, authorities arrested a former journalist, Juan Thompson, 31, who has been charged in eight bomb threats to Jewish institutions.
Groups like the Anti-Defamation League have gone as far as drafting a plan for the federal government to fight the attacks, which include forming an anti-hate crime federal task force and increasing training for state and local law enforcement to detect and respond to hate crimes.
Lonnie Nasatir, the Anti-Defamation League’s regional director of the Greater Chicago/Upper Midwest area, said Kelly’s statement addresses one of the ADL’s suggestions: to increase investigative resources.
“We are encouraged by the federal government putting more resources into this investigation. It’s gone on now for several weeks, and as time goes on, it seems to be more institutions impacted,” Nasatir said. “As a result, there are more communities ... concerned about the places where they send their children or spend their community time.”
“We hope there will be a way to send a very powerful message to those hoping to intimidate minority communities that the government is not willing to tolerate that,” Nasatir added.
The full DHS statement reads:
Over the past few weeks, our country has seen an unacceptable and disturbing rise in the number of apparent hate-inspired attacks and harassment against individuals and communities. I strongly condemn any violent acts to perpetuate fear and intimidation not only against individuals, but entire communities. I pledge the full support of the Department of Homeland Security to assist local, state, and federal investigations into these incidents.
In response to these attacks, I have directed the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to work with impacted communities. We will heighten our outreach and support to groups affected by these incidents to enhance public safety. The Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties will hold Incident Communication Coordination Team calls with impacted communities. The DHS Office of International Engagement will also continue to work with foreign governments whose nationals have been affected by these violent acts.
The United States has a history of welcoming and accepting individuals regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or national origin. Freedom of religion is a cherished American value, guaranteed by the United States Constitution. DHS is committed to protecting all people’s right to that essential freedom.