Norton Demands Answers from D.C. U.S. Attorney on Hate Crimes

Sep 3, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) released an August 29 letter today sent to United States Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu again requesting information on prosecutions for hate crimes.  A previous request for information had gone unanswered despite reports that the District leads the nation in reported hate crimes per capita.  Norton has hosted multiple community meetings to hear from the District’s LGBTQ community, which prompted her original letter to the U.S. Attorney Liu.

In her letter, Norton writes: “I am concerned about the low prosecution rates by your office compared to those of other cities.  I would like an explanation for the very high declination rate for hate crime prosecutions by your office and whether these declination decisions stemmed from a lack of resources or from other causes.”

The full letter is posted below.

August 29, 2019

The Honorable Jessie K. Liu

United States Attorney

District of Columbia

555 4th Street NW

Washington, DC 20001

 

Dear United States Attorney Liu:

I write to follow up on my July 17, 2019, letter, which I am attaching, where I asked you for information regarding hate crime prosecutions in the District of Columbia, especially those where members of the LGBTQ community were targets.  My original letter followed my town meeting with LGBTQ residents who have been targets of hate crimes in D.C. more often than any other group of residents.  I have received no response to my letter.  I remain interested in your response because you are a federal official confirmed by the Senate in the absence of a local prosecutor for the District.

Based on public reports, I also request more information about prosecution rates and declination decisions by your office.  As you are likely aware, the Washington Post has recently published information regarding hate crime prosecutions in the District compared with hate crime prosecutions in comparable cities across the country (containing some of the information I had requested from you on prosecution rates).  For example, I understand that in 2017, police here arrested 54 adults for hate crimes, but, of those, only two cases were prosecuted by your office, and the hate crimes charges were dropped as part of plea deals.  I further understand that in 2018, only three people arrested for hate crimes were prosecuted for those crimes.  The Post notes that hate crime prosecutions and convictions are at their lowest point in at least a decade, despite the increase in complaints.

I am concerned about the low prosecution rates by your office compared to those of other cities.  I would like an explanation for the very high declination rate for hate crime prosecutions by your office and whether these declination decisions stemmed from a lack of resources or from other causes.

I ask that you respond in writing within 15 days of the date of this letter.

Sincerely,

Eleanor Holmes Norton

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