Local News

President Calls for Americans to Unite Against Hate Crimes

Posted November 10, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Seven years ago, there was no such thing as a hate crime... at least, not according to police reports. We've come along way in recognizing and punishing those who terrorize 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 Crimes via satellite.

WRAL's Kelly Wright was present for the conference. He says the President says one of America's greatest challenges - and greatest 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 truly become one nation under God."

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

Shanay Simpson, aDuke University senior, captured the heart of the President when she spoke of how she overcame hate crimes committed against blacks by skinheads in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York. "Hatred and the pain it causes is not only my problem but our problem."

AtNorth Carolina Central University, where people watched the teleconference, 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 combat hate."

Hate crimes in North Carolina have often targeted African American churches. But some are concerned about a developing trend oftargeting Hispanics. Jackie Carroll-Garcia, an African American who married a Mexican, is particularly 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's message. "It's true to say to our President to involve all together in our community... white, black, Hispanic and Chinese."

The President says theDepartments of JusticeandEducationwill soon distribute literature about hate crimes to school children across the country.

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