April 1, 2020

AG Barr Says DOJ Will Increase Prosecution of Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 13: U.S. Attorney General William Barr speaks during a press conference on the shooting at the Pensacola naval base January 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. Barr said the Justice Department’s investigation determined the shooting "was an act of terrorism" that was "motivated by jihadist ideology". (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Attorney General William Barr announced in a Jan. 28 press conference in Brooklyn, N.Y., that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will be increasing its prosecutions of anti-Semitic hate crimes at the local level.

Barr, who was meeting with Jewish community leaders in the Borough Park neighborhood, said, “I’m extremely distressed by the upsurge in violence, hate crimes committed against the Jewish community. This administration is going to have zero tolerance for this kind of violence.”

The attorney general explained that this “zero tolerance” policy would involve lowering the threshold for the DOJ to prosecute hate crimes at the local level. For instance, he said that the federal government will be prosecuting Tiffany Harris, who allegedly slapped three Orthodox Jewish women and said “F— you, Jews!” in December.

“This will not be an isolated case,” Barr said. “We will move aggressively when we see this type of activity.”

Allen Fagin, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, told the Journal that Barr also discussed the possibility of distributing federal grants to provide security for Jewish organizations. Fagin said the fact that Barr and other high-level members in the DOJ met with community leaders made it “clear to the community that this was an issue of utmost concern to the highest levels of the Justice Department, that this was not conduct that they would tolerate, and that they had every intention of bringing to bear all of the resources — prosecutorial, investigatory and otherwise — of the federal government to deal with issues of anti-Semitic hate crime in any community.”

He added: “I think that that message itself, and how it was communicated and where it was communicated … was met with enormous gratitude by the individuals in the room.”

Boro Park Jewish Community Center CEO Avi Greenstein tweeted, “Historic day as critical issues were brought to the [attention] of AG William Barr including targeting of religious freedom at local/state levels creating a trickledown effect.” He added that he wanted “to express gratitude for the new measures announced by AG.”