hate crimes

$26 Million Federal Grant Aims to Combat Hate Crimes in the State

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal is encouraging cities and towns to apply for a grant designed to better train police officers and support communities dealing with discrimination.

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Lawmakers are acting after a Massachusetts-based neo-Nazi group started distributing hateful flyers around Connecticut.

The flyer, created by the New England Nationalist Social Club, describes themselves as “a pro-white, street-oriented fraternity dedicated to raising authentic resistance to the enemies of our people in the New England area.” 

Police said the propaganda was recently strewn across West Hartford and other Connecticut towns in an effort to rally supporters. Some people found the flyers in their yard or on their car windshields.

On Monday, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal joined the West Hartford Police Department and other state leaders to announce new legislation that addresses this discriminatory behavior.

“The New England Nationalist Social Club is more than a dog whistle, it is an overt appeal to prejudice and bias and is a sign of spreading violent extremism in this country,” said Blumenthal. 

The bill includes $26 million in federal funding, and $21 million is expected to go to the Department of Justice's Community Relations Service to assist communities.

Blumenthal’s bipartisan Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act also provides $5 million for cities and towns to improve hate crime reporting, set up hotlines for victims in need of support services, and teach police officers how to identify and investigate these issues. 

"The police are the tip of the spear in this effort to counter this kind of hatred that we see not only continuing but rising,” said Sen. Blumenthal. 

"A recent report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) measured a 20-fold increase in the last four years in White Supremacist propaganda, stickers, flyers, and banners here in Connecticut,” said Stacey Sobel, the Anti-Defamation League’s regional director. 

According to the ADL, there was a 42% increase in antisemitic incidents including vandalism, harassment, and assault in Connecticut in 2021.

West Hartford's Police Chief Vernon Riddick said while these flyers are not considered a crime, he implores everyone to report them to their local police station so they can collect this data. 

"Although it's not a crime, it could be a precursor to a crime, and if you have these inflammatory hateful thoughts, it could lead to violence,” said Riddick. 

Towns and cities can apply for this funding through the Department of Justice. You can also report on the ADL’s website

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