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Garland orders DOJ to pursue ‘disturbing trend’ in hate crimes

Chris Strohm

Attorney General Merrick Garland directed Justice Department employees to give priority to investigating and prosecuting hate crimes and incidents, “particularly the disturbing trend in reports of violence against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.”

Garland said in a memo to department employees on Tuesday that he is ordering a 30-day “expedited review to determine how the department can deploy all the tools at its disposal in support of this effort.”

President Joe Biden's pick for attorney general Merrick Garland, addresses staff on his first day at the Department of Justice, Thursday, March 11, 2021,  in Washington.

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The directive comes amid an outbreak of violence against Asian Americans. A series of mass shootings on March 16 in the Atlanta metropolitan area left eight people dead, six of whom were Asian women.

It’s also the first major public action that Garland has taken since he became the nation’s top law enforcement officer almost three weeks ago.

President Joe Biden also announced new steps Tuesday in response to anti-Asian violence, including a $50 million grant program for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The FBI also will begin holding “nationwide civil rights training events to promote state and local law enforcement reporting of hate crimes,” according to the announcement.