WUOMFM

U.S. attorney says hate crimes prosecution to remain priority no matter what

Nov 28, 2016

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade says federal prosecutions of hate crimes will remain a priority in Michigan - even if she herself is replaced by a new administration.

"If one person from a particular community is targeted because of their race or their religion or their ethnicity or their sexual orientation, then everyone else who is a member of that group feels vulnerable." Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

McQuade is U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

She hopes to reassure people who may fear that the government will abandon the prosecution of hate crimes, due the tone of the discourse during the presidential campaign.

"I understand that fear," says McQuade. "I understand some of the divisive rhetoric we heard during the election can cause people to have fear. But I have great faith in the men and women who work in the U.S. Attorney's Office, in the FBI in the field in Detroit and other places,  that we are going to be committed to protecting all of our citizens - all of our residents - including our most vulnerable members: immigrant populations, the LGBT community, ethnic and religious minorities."

McQuade acknowledges that a new administration could certainly set new and different priorities other than the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes.  But she says hundreds of field officers will remain in their posts, and their values will not change.

"If one person from a particular community is targeted because of their race or their religion or their ethnicity or their sexual orientation, then every one else who is a member of that group feels vulnerable," she says.

"I'm confident that regardless of who's in charge of this office, who's in charge in Washington, that the important work of prosecuting hate crimes is going to continue," she says. "And we want to assure people that we are very interested in hearing about it [possible hate crimes] and we will bring a case where we feel that we can prove it."

A federal hate crime involves a physical assault motivated by bias. 

Overall, U.S. hate crimes rose 6% in 2015 compared to 2014; hate crimes against Muslims rose 67%.