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Published On: Sat, Nov 3rd, 2018

US Attorney and FBI Special Agent request Vigilance after Synagogue Tragedy

In the wake of the tragedy that occurred at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia and the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Atlanta Field Division offer their condolences and request the public’s assistance in reporting possible threats.

“Our hearts are heavy in the wake of the senseless, mass shooting that occurred at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, and we extend our deepest condolences to the victims and their families of this tragedy, and to all Jewish people,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “The federal law enforcement in the Northern District of Georgia is committed to making sure every house of worship in our area remains a safe and holy place.”

Photo/Alexandra / München

“It is the FBI’s ultimate responsibility to protect American citizens and uphold the U.S. Constitution,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Atlanta Field Division. “To that end, we actively assess intelligence and are in a continuous dialogue with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners about any potential threats. But, most importantly, we need the public’s eyes and ears on anything suspicious, and we need them to call us when they see or hear it.”

It is important that everyone in our community remain vigilant and contact law enforcement when something doesn’t seem right.  Concern may arise from seeing or hearing something in person or from threatening or hateful social media posts, especially those posts which target others based on their race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

While we must respect the right to free speech, we will always balance that respect with our concern for the safety of citizens.  We want to quickly learn about anything you see or hear that causes you to believe that any level of danger exists. There is simply too much at stake not to say something.

Under federal law, a hate crime is defined as an offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by the offender’s bias against the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability.

The Department of Justice announced the recent launch of a new comprehensive hate crimes website (www.justice.gov/hatecrimes) designed to provide a centralized portal for the Department’s hate crimes resources for law enforcement, media, researchers, victims, advocacy groups, and other related organizations and individuals.  The resources include training materials, technical assistance, videos, research reports, statistics, and other helpful information from all of the Department components working on hate crimes.

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