Subject: FBI To Create "Hate Crime Unit"
As President Bill Clinton declares "an all-out assault on hate crime," the FBI has plans to create a new unit specifically to investigate hate crimes. Legislation is under consideration to significantly broaden what can be prosecuted as a hate crime, CNN has learned.
Clinton, in his Saturday radio address, said that the U.S. has "still not purged ourselves of all bigotry and intolerance" and he called for a White House conference in November "to confront the dark forces of division that still exist."
"In preparation for the conference, Attorney General Reno has begun a thorough review of the laws concerning hate crimes and the ways in which the federal government can make a difference to help us to build a more vigorous plan of action," Clinton said.
CNN has learned that a first step in that plan will be to divide the FBI's civil rights unit into two separate units, with one focusing only on hate crimes and the other on "color of law" crimes such as police brutality, according to a civil rights source.
The Justice Department is also considering pushing for a major change in current civil rights laws to broaden the definition of what can be prosecuted as a hate crime and what groups would be protected, a source told CNN.
Under current law, a hate crime conviction can only be obtained if prosecutors prove that the defendant committed the crime against somebody based on race and specifically to deny them a right spelled out in the law.
One proposal would broaden the law so that it would cover a violation of rights beyond what is specified in the statute, a source said.
Also being considered is broadening the civil rights statute to include crimes against people based on their disabilities, gender or sexual orientation. Currently, hate crimes can only be based on race or, in some cases, religion.
Clinton said the November conference would "take a serious look at the laws and remedies that can make a difference in preventing hate crimes."
"We'll bring to the White House victims of hate crimes and their families to understand why the impact of these crimes runs so much deeper than the crimes themselves," Clinton said.
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