Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that recent killings show the need for a tougher U.S. hate crimes law to stop “violence masquerading as political activism.”
“Over the last several weeks, we have witnessed brazen acts of violence, committed in places that many would have considered unthinkable,” Holder told the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
The violence, he said, “reminds us of the potential threat posed by violent extremists and the tragedy that ensues when reasoned discourse is replaced by armed confrontation.”
In order to stop that violence, he said, Congress should pass an updated version of hate crimes legislation, in order to more effectively prosecute those who commit violent attacks based on gender, disability, or sexual orientation.
The growing number of hate crimes against Hispanics also shows the need for tougher laws, Holder said.
Earlier, a leading civil rights coalition says there has been an increase in white supremacist activity since the election of the first African-American president.
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund reported Tuesday that the economic downturn and fear of immigrants also contributed to the increase.