Next month, President Joe Biden will host a unity summit against the hate-driven violence that has afflicted and disturbed the country in recent years. The summit, announced on Friday, August 19, will be held at the White House and available for communities across the country to watch via live television.
The United We Stand Summit, which is scheduled for September 15, aims to counter the “corrosive effects of hate-fueled violence on our democracy and public safety,” as well as to highlight and address the Biden-Harris Administration’s response to these dangers, and “put forward a shared vision for a more united America,” as stated by the White House.
The one-day event was made possible thanks to several advocacy organizations that pushed Biden to organize the summit after the mass shooting that occurred in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, where 10 Black people were killed by 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron. Gendron was charged with domestic terrorism motivated by hate and 10 counts of first-degree murder. One of the organizations that advocated for this summit was the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund (LDF), a nonprofit legal organization fighting for racial justice.
In a statement, LDF President and Director-Counsel Janai S. Nelson said it was important that the future policies and solutions developed to address these issues do not cause greater harm to communities facing anti-hate threats and that they protect the civil rights and civil liberties of everyone in the nation.
“We commend President Biden for organizing the United We Stand Summit and raising awareness about the alarming rise in hate crimes in the United States,” Nelson said in the same statement. “We also need concrete action at every level of government to address this urgent crisis. Words are simply not enough.”
The gathering will include a keynote speech by President Biden, as well as inclusive panels and conversations featuring civil rights groups, faith leaders, business executives, law enforcement, gun violence prevention advocates, former members of violent hate groups, and even victims of extremist violence.
One of the key components of the summit is the administration’s goal to unite bipartisan efforts and consequently bring together Democrat and Republican leaders at the state and federal levels to strategize against hate crimes and violence. “The United We Stand Summit will present an important opportunity for Americans of all races, religions, regions, political affiliations, and walks of life to take up that cause together,” the White House stated.
“Hate must have no safe harbor in America,” Biden’s Domestic Policy Advisor Susan E. Rice said in a statement. “When we cannot settle our differences of opinion peacefully, and when ordinary Americans cannot participate in the basic activities of everyday life…without the fear of being targeted and killed for who they are, our democracy is at risk.”
The summit will come at a time when hate crimes in the city of Los Angeles are at an all-time high. LA is on its way to surpassing last year’s hate crime record, according to data published last month by Crosstown at USC, a nonprofit news organization based at the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.
The data shows that in 2021 there were a total of 596 hate crimes reported to the Los Angeles Police Department. The number of hate crimes reported during the first six months of this year is already 349 cases, a 16.7% increase from the same period last year and more than double the amount (171 cases) reported in the first six months of 2020.
Latinos are the second-most targeted group among hate crimes in LA. As reported by the LA Times, hate crimes in the first six months of the year most often targeted the Black community, with 91, followed by Hispanic/Latinos with 43, and the Jewish community with 39.
Sindy Benavides, National Chief Executive Officer of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the largest and oldest Hispanic and Latino civil rights organization in the United States, is happy her organization will be part of next month’s historical summit.
“Unfortunately, the Latino community, as well as many other minority and religious communities, has been victimized over and over again by deadly gun violence,” Benavides said. “As a civil rights and social justice organization, LULAC applauds the White House for bringing this issue to the forefront and acknowledging that the government needs to have a leading role in addressing domestic extremism in all forms.” Benavides also said that LULAC looks forward to working with the Biden Administration, law enforcement, stakeholders, and community groups to find long-term solutions to the hate crime epidemic.
As of today, the White House has not released a detailed list of specific speakers or participants, but the list of attendees is expected to be known closer to the date of the summit. In addition, the White House is also calling on people across the nation to nominate a “Uniter” in their community to be recognized for their work.
According to the news release, “Uniters” are “everyday members of our communities who are working to bring communities together…Many of these Uniters are themselves survivors of hate-fueled violence who have turned their pain into purpose.”
“Uniters” nominations are currently open and the deadline to nominate someone is September 1, 2022. For more details and to submit your nomination click HERE.