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Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office creates Civil Rights Unit to prosecute hate crimes, address discrimination

BALTIMORE, MD—This week, Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner announced that the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland has established a Civil Rights Unit to enhance the department’s focus on hate crimes and to address discrimination with regard to housing, education, and other sector.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office has always enforced federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, color, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, familial status and citizenship,” said Lenzner. “We are making it a priority to have the capabilities to address all forms of discrimination that may exist in any sector or community. It is important that our focus and capabilities in the area of civil rights be well known throughout all Maryland communities. The establishment of the Civil Rights Unit to vigorously enforce federal civil rights laws will help foster a community where individuals live free from unlawful barriers and ensure equal opportunity to all citizens regardless of any protected status.”

The new Civil Rights Unit will investigate and prosecute violations of criminal statutes, including hate crimes and deprivation of rights made under the color of law, and will bring civil cases to address patterns or practices of discrimination in housing, education, health care and employment, among other areas. The Unit will also coordinate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s National Security Section on allegations and investigations related to domestic terrorism to ensure that civil rights statutes, including those related to hate crimes and racially motivated offenses, are considered and employed, as appropriate.

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The Civil Rights Unit will be staffed by assistant U.S. Attorneys from both the Civil and Criminal Divisions, who will work together to ensure that a full arsenal of statutes and remedies are employed to address all forms of discrimination. The Unit will develop working relationships with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies throughout Maryland that are focused on enforcing civil rights, and will increase outreach efforts to public, private, and not-for-profit entities. The Office will also continue to partner and coordinate with the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as assist county and municipal jurisdictions in Maryland to identify and seek grants and other funding and training opportunities administered by the Department of Justice.

Through the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s prioritization and strengthened partnerships, civil rights violations in Maryland will be investigated and as appropriate, prosecuted by federal or state prosecutors.

More information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office is available at https://www.justice.gov/usao/md.

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