Governments, elected leaders respond to uptick in hate crime

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Amid reports of hate crimes and hate speech following the election of Republican Donald Trump as president, there have been calls from some governments and elected officials for stronger anti-hate crime laws, a crackdown on offenders and hotlines for citizens to report harassment and intimidation.

Here are some of the steps taken across the U.S. since Election Day.

A hotline created by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office last week to report incidents of harassment or intimidation of minority groups in the state already has logged hundreds of calls.

The Democrat said her office created the hotline in response to bias-motivated threats around the country, including some in Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn, a Democrat, has urged residents of his state who believe they are victims of threats based on their personal characteristics to call the state’s Department of Justice.

Hotlines to report hate crimes also have been created in recent days in San Francisco and Maryland. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said complaints will be referred to local law enforcement for further investigation when appropriate.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, has called for tougher federal legislation against hate crimes. He announced Monday he plans to submit legislation that would increase penalties for those convicted of hate crimes and allow those who report hate crimes to do so anonymously, among other things.

Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said “it is extremely important that political, civil and religious leaders” make it clear they’re united in defending all citizens who feel vulnerable. Dhaouadi joined Blumenthal at a news conference.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed state police to create a special unit to investigate reports of hate crimes. Cuomo, a Democrat, announced the initiative Sunday, saying it’s in response to what he called “ugly political discourse” that didn’t end with the election.

Cuomo said he also plans to push for legislation that expands protections under New York’s human rights law to all students statewide. He also wants to create the nation’s first emergency legal defense fund to ensure all immigrants have access to representation.