Confronting the Wave of Hate

Police Accountability, Racial Justice

On the heels of our open letter to President-Elect Donald Trump – where we made a commitment to aggressively protect minority and immigrant communities in Massachusetts – we are swiftly addressing a wave of hate, including urgent problems related to harassment, intimidation and immigration enforcement.

In West Springfield, a Puerto Rican family – including an Iraqi veteran and two children – found “go home” and “Trump” keyed into their car. In a letter sent to law enforcement officials, we called for an investigation of this incident as a hate crime. West Springfield officials have now assigned a detective to investigate this matter.

In Milford, residents received unwanted KKK materials. Milford officials have indicated that they will not investigate because KKK activities are protected by the First Amendment. We disagree. Had materials praising ISIS and urging residents to join its ranks appeared unbidden on Milford doorsteps, we presume that such actions would have been thoroughly condemned and investigated. Similar conduct from the KKK – a domestic terrorist organization – should be treated no differently. KKK activities are designed to rob people of their dignity and to foment hate crimes and violence. We are calling for a full-scale investigation into KKK activities in Milford.

In Bristol County, the Sheriff’s Office has volunteered to enforce federal immigration law. In an era of scarce resources, it is fiscally irresponsible to divert local resources and funds to federal immigration enforcement. When state and local police are co-opted into federal immigration enforcement, the public will associate police with immigration. This makes victims and witnesses of crimes reluctant to approach police. Since an erosion of trust in law enforcement is harmful to all residents, including U.S. Citizens, we are calling on Bristol County to reverse this misguided policy.

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s hate crimes hotline (800-994-3228), established after the Election, has already received more than 400 calls. As our work in West Springfield, Milford, and Bristol County demonstrates, we are committed to safeguarding your rights and protecting our communities. With your support, we can meet this unprecedented wave of hate with decisive and immediate action.

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