Top South Florida officials keeping close watch on hate crimes, threats
With Jewish and Muslim groups reporting an increase of hateful rhetoric in the wake of the war in the Middle East, top federal law enforcement officials in South Florida said they are on alert for possible hate crimes and potential threats.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our local FBI partners are focused on protecting the safety and the civil rights of every person in South Florida,” said Miami U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe in a statement released Monday by his office.
“There is no justification for terrorism,” he said. “There is no place for hate, evil acts, or threats against Jews, Muslims, or anyone in our diverse South Florida communities or around the globe.”
“As Attorney General Merrick B. Garland stated this weekend ‘We will use every legal authority at our disposal to bring to justice those who perpetrate illegal acts of hate,’” Lapointe added.
Garland said the Justice Departmentopened a hate crime investigation into the events near Chicago over the weekend leading up to the fatal stabbing of a 6-year-old Muslim boy and seriously wounding his mother.
The suspect, Joseph M. Czuba, 71, of Plainfield, was charged with a hate crime after police and relatives said he singled out the victims because of their faith and as a response to the war between Israel and Hamas.
Said Garland: "No one in the United States of America should have to live in fear of violence because of how they worship or where they or their family come from.”
The region’s top FBI official, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri, said his agency is working closely with police agencies throughout South Florida “to share information and identify and disrupt any threats that may emerge.”
“As always, we take seriously any tips or leads we receive regarding potential threats and investigate them rigorously to determine their credibility,” he said. “The FBI encourages members of the public to remain vigilant and report anything they consider suspicious to law enforcement.”
In his statement, Veltri urged the public to report all suspected hate crimes to the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or tips.fbi.gov.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.