Trenton – A special resolution sponsored by Senate Law and Public Safety Chair Linda Greenstein, which would condemn hate crimes and any other form of racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination or incitement to violence targeting minorities in New Jersey, passed the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
Before the special resolution, SR-118, was voted on by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, a joint hearing took place with the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee and the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee to hear testimony from invited guests concerning the increase in hate and bias crimes.
“Holding this hearing and having a dialogue concerning the growing number of hate crimes in New Jersey provided us valuable insight as we work to address this increasing epidemic,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We wanted to find out how big the problem is and what we can do moving forward. After hearing the testimony of our guests it is imperative for us to act.
The resolution would further encourage the Governor and the Attorney General to provide state assistance to victims of hate crimes. The resolution also calls for enhanced security measures at places of worship that have been targeted because of their affiliation with any particular race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.
According to the most recent report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the number of reported hate crime incidents nationally in 2017 had increased 17 percent over 2016 totals, representing the first consecutive three year annual increase and the largest single-year increase since 2001, when hate crimes targeting Muslim Americans increased in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
According to FBI statistics, there were 495 hate crimes reported in New Jersey in 2017, a 76 percent increase from the previous year and the fourth-highest reported total in the nation. Of those New Jersey hate crimes, 260 were attributed to race or ethnic bias, 180 were attributed to religious bias, 51 were attributed to sexual orientation, and four were attributed to disability.