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Schumer Recently Delivered Record Surge Of Funds To Protect Synagogues, Churches, Schools, Mosques & Other Places Of Worship, But Announces Need To Quadruple Those Funds Amid National Crisis Of Hate

Wants Funding To Better Protect Places Of Worship & Prosecute Hate Crimes More Vigorously

Schumer: Feds Must Strengthen Strategy Because Status Quo Is Just Not Working

A day after urging the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to step in and fully investigate the horrific Monsey, New York, Hanukkah attack, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer called the current state of hate in America, and the resultant number of violent attacks on religious institutions and members of religious groups, a national crisis that demands a much stronger federal response. Schumer cited the recent horrific Hanukkah attack against the Hasidic Jewish community in Monsey, New York and the killings in the West Freeway Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas, and outlined a plan to strengthen the federal government’s strategy against this rising hate and extremist attacks, especially those targeted against religious organizations. Schumer outlined two major points to begin the strengthening of a federal strategy to hit back at hate.

Schumer’s two-pronged plan would:

1) Dramatically increase not-for-profit security grants (NPSG) that recent episodes demand a surge in.  

2) Increase support for federal programs to prosecute hate crimes.

“The Monsey attack on the Jewish community was cowardly and callous, and it struck even more terror into the Jewish community, which was already reeling from the horrific attacks and cold-blooded murders of other orthodox Jewish community members in Jersey City just days ago, not to mention an alarming spate of other attacks against the New York area Jewish community. But what should alarm each and every American across this country is that the Hanukkah attack is part of a cascade of violence and intolerance as the state of hate in America has risen to a boiling point that demands a much stronger federal response, because we are in a crisis,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

The attacks here in Monsey and the New York-area, along with the shocking killing yesterday at a church in West Texas – as well as earlier appalling hate-crime attacks, like the Charleston church massacre in which nine African Americans were killed during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church – shows the vulnerability and increased danger in houses of worship,” Schumer added.   

The first part of Schumer’s plan demands a surge in what is called not-for-profit security grants (NPSG) that would take aim at this rising concern. The Nonprofit Security Grant Program provides funding to improve the security of nonprofit organizations at risk of being targeted for terror attacks. Synagogues, churches, mosques, schools and other faith-based community centers, like JCCs, are just a few examples of nonprofit organizations that could apply for these funds, administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Schumer announced today that in the just-reached, bi-partisan budget deal that kept the government funded, he led negotiations with Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi and House Minority Leader McCarthy to deliver $90,000,000 to the effort to protect places of worship, a thirty-million dollar increase over last year, but noted, the feds need to deliver more amid the crisis. Schumer, today, pledged to fight for an additional surge, a quadrupling of funding, of these federal funds for places of worship in New York and across the country.

“With horrific hate crimes and terror attacks against places of worship and schools becoming more frequent, we must continue doing all we can to help protect people of all faiths worship and gather in safety and security,” added Schumer. “Federal security funds, like those provided through NSGP, are the cornerstone of effective preparedness and prevention against terror attacks and enable nonprofit organizations, like synagogues, churches, temples, JCCs and mosques, to improve their security. These dollars prevent tragedies and save lives, so while it is good news that as part of the federal budget deal we were able to secure an increase in these funds, we need to do it again because the state of the crisis demands it.”  

Schumer said he will launch another funding request in addition to the $90,000,000 he just secured as part of the final, bi-partisan budget deal negotiations he led as he detailed some of the now-axed federal grant programs that should be re-funded. Schumer said that while the current federal funding deal will help address this scourge of hate and violence that the feds must accept that we are in a crisis and strengthen their overall federal strategy to target and stop senseless acts of violence in the first place.

The second part of Schumer’s plan seeks to increase support for federal programs to prosecute hate crimes. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2009. Among other things, the law authorized $5,000,000 for DOJ to provide ‘technical, forensic, prosecutorial or any other form of assistance’ to state and local law officials in the investigation or prosecution of a hate crime. It also allows DOJ to make grants for extraordinary expenses associated with the investigation or prosecution of a hate crime.

While state and local authorities are often closest to the threat and best equipped to neutralize it, these federal resources are critical to ensuring local officials have everything they need to go after these types of heinous crimes with the full force of the law. It’s clear that we are in the midst of a national crisis of hate and intolerance and this moment demands and all-hands-on-deck approach.

However, despite the critical need for these resources, this provision has never been fully funded. The President and Congress must support, for the first time, full funding for these grants to promote federal coordination and support for bias-motivated criminal investigations and prosecutions by State, Local, and Tribal law enforcement officials.

Schumer was joined by various faith leaders and community advocates as he made his announcement.

“This rise in anti-Semitism, the attacks in churches, places of worship, and the notion that evil acts and intolerance might simply spread and reflect some new ‘normal’ is gravely unacceptable. This is not the America our forefathers built, the America our founders envisioned or the one we represent today and that is why I am demanding the federal government strengthen its strategy to beat hate—because the status quo is just not working—and because we can fix this by working together,” Schumer said.