Washington, DC | October 22, 2009 | www.adc.org | This evening, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) joined millions of Americans in hailing the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act which was passed by the US Senate as part of the Department of Defense Authorization Conference Report. The US House of Representatives had previously passed the bill and President Obama is expected to sign it into law sometime next week.
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act would eliminate the limitations on federal involvement to investigate and prosecute hate crimes. This Act will also provide assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of bias-motivated crimes and expands the coverage of existing federal hate crimes law to include victims of bias-motivated crimes based on the victim’s gender, gender identity, or actual or perceived sexual orientation or disability.
Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Arab-American community has been subject to numerous documented hate and bias-motivated crimes. This is well-documented in the 2003 – 2007 Report on Hate Crimes and Discrimination Against Arab Americans and the earlier Report on Hate Crimes and Discrimination Against Arab Americans: The Post-September 11 Backlash. Incidents similar to these will now be more effectively investigated and prosecuted once President Obama signs this landmark civil rights bill into law.
On his final day as ADC National Executive Director, Kareem Shora said, “This is a landmark victory for civil rights and the continued struggle for equality and justice. Ten years from when this process all began, it is indeed a great step toward fulfilling our nation’s promise and protecting those most in need of protection.”
ADC President, Hon. Mary Rose Oakar said, “Today marks a momentous occasion in our nation’s history to help protect all Americans. It is our hope and belief that once it is sent to the President, he will sign it into law and finally improve and expand our nation’s protections against crimes of hate.”
NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non sectarian and non partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980, by former Senator James Abourezk to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States and to promote the cultural heritage of the Arabs. ADC has 38 chapters nationwide, including chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.
The ADC Research Institute (ADC-RI), which was founded in 1981, is a Section 501(c)(3) educational organization that sponsors a wide range of programs on behalf of Arab Americans and of importance to all Americans. ADC-RI programs include research studies, seminars, conferences and publications that document and analyze the discrimination faced by Arab Americans in the workplace, schools, media, and governmental agencies and institutions. ADC-RI also celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Arabs.