U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh of Virginia establishes new office to enforce civil rights including hate crimes


Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), Raj Parekh, announced July 1,

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Raj Parekh. Photo: Linkedin

2021, a new Civil Rights Team responsible for enforcing federal criminal civil rights laws.

The team will be in the Office’s Criminal Division and will be provided additional resources to investigate and prosecute hate crimes, bias-related incidents, and alleged law enforcement misconduct, and to enhance outreach and awareness among impacted communities, a press release from Parekh’s office said..

“Every individual has the right to enjoy their lives free from violence or discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, or any other protected basis,” Acting U.S. Attorney Parekh is quoted saying in the press release.

“Far too often, victims of hate crimes and discrimination suffer in silence. Through the creation and expansion of the Civil Rights Teams in both our Criminal and Civil Divisions, we aim to bring awareness, improve reporting of hate crimes and discrimination, increase enforcement of civil rights protections, and ensure the prosecution of those who infringe on the civil rights of others,” Parekh added.

The development of the Civil Rights Team builds on the earlier creation of the Civil Rights Enforcement Unit in EDVA’s Civil Division.

The EDVA’s Criminal Civil Rights Team will focus on violations of federal civil rights laws, including hate crimes and bias-related incidents, alleged law enforcement misconduct, and other federal civil rights offenses.

In a May 2021 memorandum, Attorney General Merrick Garland directed U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nationwide to bolster the Department’s effectiveness in this area stating that these actions “will enhance our current efforts to combat unlawful acts of hate by improving incident reporting, increasing law enforcement training and coordination at all levels of government, prioritizing community outreach, and making better use of civil enforcement mechanisms.”

Although the work of the Civil Rights Enforcement Unit has focused primarily on the enforcement of federal laws protecting the civil rights of veterans and individuals with disabilities, Acting U.S. Attorney Parekh announced that the Unit’s work “would expand to include the enforcement of federal civil rights laws for all protected individuals in connection with housing discrimination and harassment, actions that unduly burden religious expression, and law enforcement and correctional entities that engage in a pattern or practice of unlawful conduct.”

“These enhanced efforts within EDVA’s Criminal and Civil Divisions will strengthen our Office’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that the civil rights of all who call the Eastern District of Virginia home—especially those in vulnerable communities—are vigorously protected,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Parekh




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