MPAC Western NY Chapter Attends United Against Hate Program Launch in Buffalo

Buffalo, NY| MPAC Western NY Chapter | September 27, 2022 — Yesterday, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York Trini Ross launched the United Against Hate Program in Buffalo, NY. The program was announced by Attorney General Merrick Garland at the White House’s #UnitedWeStand Summit last month.

The United Against Hate program brings together community groups, community leaders, and law enforcement to build trust and strengthen coordination to combat unlawful acts of hate here and nationwide. Over the next year, all 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices will host the United Against Hate Program around the nation.

This program’s attendance included members of the Biden Administration, elected officials and leaders in the faith based community and civil society. Zaid B. Islam and Dr. Bayram Arman of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York, along with Imam Fajri Ansari of Masjid Nu’man & Buffalo State, Dr. LaVonne Ansari & Baba Eng of Community Health Center were also present.

The program topics included: defining hate crimes versus hate incidents; the importance of reporting unlawful acts of hate; providing options for responding to hate incidents when situations do not constitute a federal or state crime; and distinguishing unlawful conduct from protected First Amendment activity, including identifying protected speech versus speech that advocates violence or encourages people to commit hate crimes.

District Attorney Trini Ross highlighted the following: “The horrific events of May 14 took the lives of 10 members of our community because of their race, just because they were Black. This type of race-based hate is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in this community or in our society… The United Against Hate initiative will bring federal, state and local law enforcement together with those communities that are most vulnerable to becoming victims of hate crimes or hate incidents, while at the same time holding those who commit these acts accountable for their behavior.”

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke stated “Through United Against Hate, we are bringing together community groups, local leaders and law enforcement at every level to build trust and strengthen coordination to combat unlawful acts of hate. Our communities, schools, workplaces, houses of worship and homes are all safer when we stand unified in the fight against hate.”

The Department of Justice’s press release can be viewed here.

This issue is not specific to American Muslims, nor those who prescribe to any specific faith. Rather, the Buffalo Shooting was an attack on the essence and the foundation of our nation, and we must come together to eradicate this hate from our society.

As recent events have shown, hate-based ideologies have resulted in attacks on countless communities throughout our nation, and at times, have had a deadly and demoralizing impact on our nation. They promote civil unrest and erode our collective faith in our rightful place in our society. If left unchecked, hate-induced ideals can manifest in policies that suppress our voices and stall effective legislation from implementation. Our efforts seek to counter that by empowering American Muslims and other minorities by instilling the importance of civic engagement.

Included in those efforts are the Democracy Forums that MPAC National has hosted throughout the nation. Featuring a distinguished panel of elected officials, scholars, and activists, the forums highlight the importance of our constitutional rights and ensure our voices are not silenced.

In Washington D.C., MPAC National will continue building upon our efforts and work towards our goals as we collectively continue to engage the Biden Administration. Moreover, MPAC National will continue engaging with Capitol Hill and federal agencies, specifically with the Department of Homeland Security, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and the House Homeland Security Committee. Our role is not just to provide policy recommendations, but also to share our “lived” experiences so that as laws are passed and then implemented, it is done keeping in mind how they will impact our community.

It is through your support of MPAC and our longstanding commitment and effort on this issue that we have a seat at the table as we strive to make progress.

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The Muslim Public Affairs Council improves public understanding and policies that impact American Muslims by engaging our government, media and communities.