Tom Perez, the Obama administration’s new Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights announced yesterday that , “the Civil Rights division is again open for business.” This is a welcome change for a department that had been widely criticized for politicizing the agency, lagging in effectiveness and suppressing legitimate cases over the last eight years.
On hate crimes, Perez announced that in the first year of the Obama administration, the department had dealt with more hate crime cases than in any year since 2001.
According to the Associated Press:
A total of 25 hate crime cases were filed for the budget year that ended in September, encompassing most of President Barack Obama’s first year in office and the last few months of the Bush administration. In 2001, there were 31 such cases filed. The number fell to a low of 12 in 2006, before starting to rise again, reaching 23 in 2008.
The public announcement of hate crime charges by the Justice Department this week against three police officers and two young men in Pennsylvania for racially motivated murders is a welcome sign of things to come.