A new U.S. Justice Department task force on hate crimes will begin work in January with a public conference on the law, school bullying and prevention, officials announced Tuesday.
The one-day program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City seeks to expand community awareness of hate crimes and eventually lower the number of such crimes committed in the region, U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson said at a news conference.
“It requires the united effort of our entire community, working together, to combat prejudice in our neighborhoods and bullying in our schools,” Dickinson said.
Michael Kaste, special agent in charge of the FBI’s local office, said 67 hate crimes were reported in the Kansas City area last year. Most of those reports, 44, were for racially biased crimes, while 14 were for crimes motivated by sexual orientation. The rest involved religion and ethnicity.
Kaste said that even though hate crime reports have remained relatively consistent over the years, any such crimes are “intolerable.”
“It goes against what our country stands for and what it was founded on,” Kaste said.
Almost 6,000 hate crimes were reported nationwide last year, according to FBI statistics released this week.
The Jan. 13 conference, which is free and open to the public, will run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will include presentations on federal and state hate crime laws and statistics, school bullying, case studies, a presentation on white nationalism in Missouri and Kansas, and a panel discussion on hate crime prevention.
For more information and to make a reservation, send an email toRSVP-KC@ic.fbi.gov.