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President Calls for Americans to Unite Against Hate Crimes

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Duke University student Shanay Simpson
DURHAM — Seven years ago, there was no such thing as a hate crime... at least, notaccording to police reports.We've come along way in recognizing and punishing those whoterrorize people simply because they're different.

Last year alone, the FBI registered nearly 9,000 hate crimes.Here in North Carolina, 40 hate crimes were reported.But President Clinton says we need to do better in reporting the incidents,and prosecuting the abusers.

Today, Mister Clinton hosted a day-long event aimed at toughening the laws.People in Durham were chosen to take part in first-ever White House Conference on Hate Crimesvia satellite.

WRAL's Kelly Wright was present for the conference.He says the President says one of America's greatest challenges - andgreatest opportunities - is conquering the forces of hatred and division."Whether we like it or not, our futures are bound together and it is time we acted like it. If we can come together on this we will trulybecome one nation under God."

President Clinton is urging Americans to make a united stand againstracism and hate crimes.

Shanay Simpson, aDuke Universitysenior, captured the heart of thePresident when she spoke of how she overcame hate crimes committed againstblacks by skinheads in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York."Hatred and the pain it causes is not only my problem but ourproblem."

AtNorth Carolina Central University,where people watched theteleconference, many people, including NCCU student Sharon Mayer, applauded the President's efforts to end hate crimes."It takes a great deal of strength of character to combathate."

Hate crimes in North Carolina have often targeted African Americanchurches.But some are concerned about a developing trend oftargeting Hispanics.Jackie Carroll-Garcia, an African American who married a Mexican, isparticularly concerned."My son is going to be bi-racial and especially hearing about the things going on in Durham between blacks and the Hispanic community."Jose Carbajal, director of CASA Multicultural, agreed with Clinton'smessage."It's true to say to our President to involve alltogether in our community... white, black, Hispanic andChinese."

The President says theDepartments ofJusticeandEducationwill soon distributeliterature about hate crimes to school children acrossthe country.

The President says it's up to us to teach our kids to appreciate otherraces, religions and ethnicities.

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