Letter From the President: Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

Immediate Release                             July 12, 2000

                           TO THE SPEAKER OF THE
                         HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                                 July 12, 2000

Dear Mr. Speaker:

I write to urge you to bring the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) to the
floor for a vote before the August recess.  Last month, the Senate, in a
strong bipartisan showing, voted over-whelmingly to pass this legislation
that would strengthen federal hate crimes law.  As the Senate vote
demonstrates, passing hate crimes legislation is not a partisan issue.  It
is a national concern requiring a national response.  Now it is time for
the House to do its part to ensure that strong hate crimes legislation
becomes law this year.

Since this legislation was introduced in November 1997, our country has
witnessed countless acts of bigotry and hatred.  In June 1998, James Byrd,
Jr., an African-American man, was brutally dragged to his death.  In
October of that year, Mathew Shepard, a gay college student, died after
being beaten and tied to a fence.  In July 1999, Benjamin Smith went on a
racially motivated shooting spree in Illinois and Indiana.  At the end of
this hate-fueled rampage, Ricky Byrdsong, an African-American who was
former basketball coach at Northwestern University, and Won-Joon Yoon, a
Korean graduate student at Indiana University, were killed, and eight
others were wounded.  In August 1999, Joseph Ileto, a native of the
Philippines and U.S. postal worker, died at the hands of a gunman in Los
Angeles.  This same gunman also injured five persons, including three
children, at a Jewish community center.  Finally, this year there were two
killing rampages in Pennsylvania.  In March, an African-American man shot
and killed three white men.  In April, another man murdered an
African-American man, a Jewish woman, two Asian-American men, and an Indian
man.  We must take action now to stop these acts of violence.

This legislation is absolutely necessary because hate crimes are
fundamentally different from other crimes.  Victims are targeted simply
because of who they are -- whether it is race, color, religion, sexual
orientation, disability, or gender.  These acts of violence affect entire
communities, not just the individual victims.  This legislation would
provide more tools to State and local law enforcement to investigate and
prosecute hate crimes.  It would also expand protection to include hate
crimes based on sexual orientation, gender, or disability.

I ask the House of Representatives to follow the bipartisan example of the
Senate by passing hate crimes legislation before the August recess.  We
must send a message that hate crimes will not be tolerated, and that one
more hate crime is one too many.

                         WILLIAM J. CLINTON

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