Updated at 2:58 p.m.
Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, noted in an address Thursday evening the number of hate crimes in the United States is rising, and that many involved “remarkably senseless violence.”
Perez, speaking before the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia’s annual Equal Justice Awards ceremony, said that, “Regrettably, our business is booming, and our business is booming because there is an undeniable headwind of intolerance around the nation. We’ve prosecuted more hate crimes cases in the last year than we had in the last decade.”
Perez spoke about a Mexican national in Pennsylvania who was beat to death by a group of teenagers who didn’t want Mexicans moving into their neighborhood. He talked about visiting the remains of a mosque burned by a white supremacist in Columbia, Tenn. At an unrelated incident in Murfreesboro, Tenn., the town wanted to restrict a local mosque’s ability to expand. The town contended that Islam was not a religion and that the mosque could therefore not expand.
The DOJ also has tackled cases of housing discrimination, the bullying of kids, internet harassment, and enforcing the preclearance clause of the Voting Rights Act, known as Section 5, Perez said. He spoke about the recent preclearance granted for redistricting maps in Louisiana and North Carolina. The DOJ rejected the map for Texas. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel in Washington turned down the state’s motion for summary judgment.
“Throughout the course of our enforcement we will undoubtedly disappoint people across an ideological spectrum because our job is to apply the facts to the law,” Perez said.