Norton Calls on U.S. Attorney for D.C. to Increase Prosecution of Hate Crimes
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) released the letter she sent today to Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Attorney Michael R. Sherwin asking him to prosecute hate crimes targeted at the LGBTQ community. Her letter follows several public meetings Norton has held to address the issue of prosecuting hate crimes.
“This letter is the latest in my longstanding work to ensure every member of our community is safe from attack and harassment,” Norton said. “We must work to protect our LGBTQ community. The U.S. Attorney for D.C., who is not elected by D.C. residents or appointed by D.C. officials, is responsible for prosecuting almost all local crimes in D.C. I have continually pressed the last several U.S. Attorneys for D.C. to prosecute hate crimes and will continue to do so. The office must work to ensure everybody can live in a safe environment.”
Norton’s District of Columbia Local Prosecutor Home Rule Act of 2019 (H.R. 917) would give D.C. the authority to prosecute all local crimes. Under federal law, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C., a federal entity, is responsible for prosecuting almost all local crimes committed by adults in the District.
Norton’s letter follows:
August 5, 2020
The Honorable Michael R. Sherwin
Acting United States Attorney
for the District of Columbia
555 4th Street NW
Washington, DC 20002
Dear Acting United States Attorney Sherwin:
Given your role as the chief prosecutor, even of local felonies, for the District of Columbia, I write to bring an urgent prosecutorial issue to your attention: prosecution of hate crimes targeting members of the LGBTQ community. I worked with your predecessors to ensure that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia would take on hate crimes targeting members of the LGBTQ community in a serious manner.
I am particularly interested in working with you to ensure prosecution of these hate crimes because of the absence of a local prosecutor for the District. You are responsible for protecting the LGBTQ community in both the local and federal courts.
I have held several events on hate crime prosecutions, and I have recurrently heard the theme that members of the LGBTQ community do not feel as though the U.S. Attorney’s Office is taking these issues seriously.
I ask that you provide my office updated statistics on the number of hate crime arrests in the District and how many were prosecuted or resulted in a plea deal. I ask that you respond in writing within 15 days of the date of this letter.
Eleanor Holmes Norton