Governments, elected leaders respond to uptick in hate crime - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Governments, elected leaders respond to uptick in hate crime

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Mongi Dhaouadi appeared Monday with Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who plans to introduce new federal anti-hate crime legislation. (WFSB) Mongi Dhaouadi appeared Monday with Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who plans to introduce new federal anti-hate crime legislation. (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB/AP) -

Some governments and elected leaders across the U.S. are responding to an uptick in reports of hate crimes following the presidential election.

Calls for stronger anti-hate crime laws, a crackdown on offenders and creation of special hotlines where citizens can report harassment and intimation are among the steps officials are taking.

Mongi Dhaouadi heads the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

He says it's "extremely important that political, civil and religious leaders" make it clear they're "united in defending all citizens, including minorities" who feel vulnerable under Republican President-elect Donald Trump's presidency.

Just last year, a man living close to a Meriden mosque shot at the building, and since then Dhaouadi said there have been other incidents, but many are afraid to speak out for fear they will be targeted again.

He appeared Monday with Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who plans to introduce new federal anti-hate crime legislation.

Those who advocate for the LGBT community are concerned.

"In the weeks following the election, I have received dozens of calls from young people worried about their future,” said Robin McHaelen, of True Colors, Inc.

Civil rights groups, and Blumenthal say more should be done to stop this.

They would like increased penalties, as well as incentives for reporting incidents, and more resources and training for police departments, in addition to protected anonymity.

"This rash of incidents that target race, genders, religions, sexual orientation need to be condemned,” Blumenthal said.

The problem is much of the reporting is incomplete, and Eyewitness News was told 85 large police departments across the country don't offer any data on hate crimes.

Blumenthal said he plans to propose legislation to get more reporting along with tougher penalties. 

In Massachusetts, hundreds of people have called a state anti-bias hotline created last week.

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.