The campaign will also encourage people who have witnessed or experienced hate crimes to report them to the FBI.
FBI Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch, Jr. announced in a statement on Wednesday that the FBI will roll out in New Jersey a public awareness campaign on hate crimes starting in August and continuing throughout early November under the slogan “Protecting Our Communities Together.”
Campaign messages will be posted in New Jersey trains and buses, rail stations, billboards along major roadways, and various websites. The campaign will also include community outreach efforts, the statement said.
The operation is a part of a national advertising campaign involving all 56 FBI offices located in major metropolitan areas. The local offices received funding to raise awareness of hate crimes and convince people to report them, according to the statement.
The federal law defines a hate crime as acts that involve “physical harm, threats, or intimidation based on bias toward an individual or group because of race, religion, gender, gender identity, physical limitations, national origin, or sexual orientation.”
The state law in New Jersey also addresses bias incidents that don’t necessarily involve criminal activity and are not considered crimes by federal law. In these cases, the FBI office in Newark will work closely with state and local law enforcement to investigate them, the statement said.
The number of hate crimes in New Jersey increased in the past two years, but the Department of Justice believed the majority of hate crimes go unreported, the statement asserted.
“We believe that these are under-reported, which is why we have to get this messaging out there; get to the citizenry and let them know that, hey, this is really, really important that you report this,” Crouch said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“First, we want the public to be aware that the FBI investigates these matters and places a very high level of priority on such incidents,” Crouch said.
“Second, we want victims and witnesses to feel secure in the fact that when they report incidents to us, we respect and value their privacy,” he said.
“Finally, we will be engaging more with those communities that may hesitate to report due to a lack of interaction with—or trust in—law enforcement.
“We can’t do it alone by any stretch of the imagination. It is critically important that we partner with the community. The community really has those relationships that we need to get that message out,” Crouch said at the press conference joined by representatives of the Hispanic, LGBTQ, Orthodox Jewish, Asian Indian, and faith communities.
“It is vitally important that the community members that we partner with that have that trust of that community are there with us on this,” he added.
FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch, Jr. was joined by a dozen community leaders in announcing the hate crimes awareness campaign. “Hate is not a crime until you act on it…” https://t.co/M2edyUNUcU pic.twitter.com/5veg7O1KTT
— FBI Newark (@FBINewark) August 18, 2021
Community leaders participating in the press conference supported the initiative to convince people to report hate crimes to the FBI and law enforcement.
Bishop Jethro James, a founding member of the Interfaith Advisory Council at the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness said at the press conference, “This message is important because most communities, wherever they come from, trust their faith leaders.”
“And so we’re saying: trust us, and we trust the FBI and all law enforcement, and they’re working together with their community partners, whether it’s homeland security, whether it’s the FBI, whether it’s the New Jersey State Police or local police departments. We encourage you: talk to somebody. Don’t try to figure it out: have I’ve been mistreated? That’s the FBI’s job; that’s Homeland Security job; please report, ” James said.
The messages promoted by the campaign will be translated into 17 languages, including Arabic, Bengali, Chinese-simplified, Chinese-traditional, Eastern Punjabi, French, Hebrew, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Yiddish, according to the statement.