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Baker to launch hate crimes task force

Gov. Charlie Baker has announced that a Massachusetts task force originally created in the 1990s is coming back.
gov. charlie baker, charlie baker, massachusetts governor
Gov. Charlie Baker. File Photo

Days after new data reported that anti-Semitic hate crimes have increased in New England by about one third over last year, a state task force created in the 1990s to combat hate crimes will be revived Monday.

Gov. Charlie Baker is planning to sign an executive order re-establishing the Governor's Task Force on Hate Crimes and then swear in its members with Secretary of Public Safety and Security Daniel Bennett on Monday afternoon.

The task force was first created by Gov. William Weld in 1991 and codified by Gov. Paul Cellucci in 1997 to "advise the Governor and the Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety on issues relating to the prevalence, deterrence, and prevention of hate crimes in the Commonwealth."

Last week, the Anti-Defamation League released new data reporting 132 anti-Semitic incidents in New England from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30 this year. That amount already exceeds the total for all of 2016 and represents a 32 percent increase over the same period last year, ADL said.

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Of the 132 total incidents, which include harassment, vandalism, school incidents and threats made against Jewish institutions, 117 or about 89 percent occurred in Massachusetts, a 44 percent increase over 2016, according to ADL.

"Anti-Semitism is sadly becoming a daily reality for thousands of Massachusetts residents," ADL New England Regional Director Robert Trestan said in a statement. "When hate hits 58 cities and towns, all of us have a responsibility to step up and take action."

It is unclear who will serve on Baker's iteration of the task force or whether this group will have a specific charge. The executive order signing and swearing-in is scheduled for 4 p.m. in the governor's office.

Last year in November, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey launched a hotline as a response to the growing number of reports of hate crimes following the presidential election.

Massachusetts resident who have witnessed or experienced bias-motivated threats, harassment or violence may call the Attorney General’s Hotline at 1-800-994-3228,fill out a civil rights complaint on the state’s website or reach out to them through Twitter or Facebook. 

 
 
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