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Law enforcement, faith leaders talk fighting hate crime in Billings

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Posted at 7:41 PM, Apr 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-20 11:46:44-04

BILLINGS - A panel discussion on combatting hate crimes brought together law enforcement and faith leaders Wednesday afternoon in Billings.

“United Against Hate” is an initiative by the U.S. Department of Justice that hopes to make a difference in the rising number of hate crimes reported in the United States.

This was the first meeting to be held here in Billings.

“We are here in Billings to talk about hate crimes, incidents of hate that have occurred here, and in particular acts of hate that have been committed against people of faith and houses of worship or other sacred objects in and around Billings,” said U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich.

The rise in hate crimes has been driven primarily by crimes based on race and ethnicity, but also sexual orientation and religious bias.

Seventeen hate crimes were reported in Montana in 2021, including five in Billings.

“One of our goals today is to have a conversation about how we can encourage people to report crimes of hate and what we can do to help law enforcement officers identify crimes of hate and report them so we can hold the perpetrators accountable,” said Laslovich.

All 94 U.S. Attorney offices across the United States are hosting these forums to connect with community groups and increase understanding and reporting of hate crimes.