Lawmakers: Kansas shootings show need for hate crime report

Two Democratic lawmakers are seeking to examine the role the Internet and airwaves play in encouraging hate crime.

Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) said Wednesday the recent shooting that killed three people at Jewish centers in Kansas brings to light the damage hate crimes can cause. 

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Their legislation would commission an updated report on the role the Internet, radio, TV and electronic media have in the promotion of violent acts and hate crime in the United States. 

“We have recently seen in Kansas the deadly destruction and loss of life that hate speech can fuel in the United States, which is why it is critical to ensure the Internet, television and radio are not encouraging hate crimes or hate speech that is not outside the protection of the First Amendment,” Markey said in a statement. 

Markey introduced the Hate Crime Reporting Act last week before the shooting in Kansas. The bill would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to update a report — "The Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crimes" — produced in 1993 to be relevant in the 21st century. Markey pushed for the creation of the initial report in 1993 while in the House. 

In the past two decades, the Internet has become a new avenue where vulnerable people can be targeted for hate crimes, Jeffries said. 

"Over 20 years have passed since the issuance of this report, and with the advancement of technology and the development of the Internet, there are new and more readily available platforms for individuals to target vulnerable populations," Jeffries said when he first introduced the legislation earlier this year along with 29 other House members. 

The bill would also require the administration to produce recommendations, which are consistent with the First Amendment. 

The Justice Department said it would file hate crime charges against the man accused of killing three people outside of a Jewish community center and retirement community in Overland Park, Kan., after it became clear he was targeting the facilities for their religious affiliation. 

The man charged had been active in white supremacist groups and has previously been convicted on weapons charges. His website was littered with bigoted remarks about minority and Jewish people.