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, advanced from the Senate yesterday.
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.
“When we held our hearing on the growing number of hate crimes in New Jersey, we were provided with a large array of valuable insight of firsthand accounts and examples that will help us to address this increasing epidemic,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “By using what we learned, we will be able to figure out how to solve this problem and make sure it never rears its ugly face again.
“There is no place for hate and bias in New Jersey and intimidation tactics will not be tolerated. We pride ourselves on being inclusive and we must ensure that we preserve our state’s diverse cultures and beliefs.”
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 religious institutions or 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) released in November 2018, the number of reported hate crime incidents nationally in 2017 had increased 17 percent over 2016 totals. This represented 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.
The resolution was released from the Senate by a vote of 39-0.