Deputy AG opens Birmingham conference on hate crimes

Birmingham conference on hate crimes
Updated: Sep. 17, 2017 at 8:07 PM CDT
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Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. (Source: Lydia Hu/WBRC)
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. (Source: Lydia Hu/WBRC)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein addressed a crowd gathered at the 16th Street Baptist Church Sunday afternoon to open the two-day conference on hate crimes. The conference is presented by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Birmingham Division and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

"Our most fundamental mission is to protect people by enforcing the rule of law," Rosenstein said about the Department of Justice. "The theme of this conference goes to the heart of our mission."

The conference continues Monday. Various community groups, including the Birmingham Jewish Community Center and Birmingham Islamic Society, will discuss hate in the community. There is also a presentation on the 2015 massacre at the Emanuel African American Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

"It is important for us to recognize that a violent attack on any American based on race, is an attack on American values," said Rosenstein. He also highlighted federal cases from Texas and Mississippi in which people pleaded guilty or were sentenced for hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity.

Before his address, Rosenstein toured the BCRI and paid respects to the 16th Street Baptist Church's memorial to the four little girls killed in the church bombing 54 years ago.

"Hate crimes have devastating effects beyond the harm inflicted on any one victim," stated Andrea L. Taylor, BCRI President and CEO. "They reverberate through families, communities and the entire nation."

"When we visit these museums, the question we need to ask is not, 'Why were those people killed?' We should ask, 'Why were our people killed?,'" said Rosenstein.

A transcript from Rosenstein's speech can be found at this link.

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