Open Society Foundations Pledge $10 Million to Fight Hate Crimes

Open Society Foundations Pledge $10 Million to Fight Hate Crimes

The Open Society Foundations have announced a $10 million initiative aimed at supporting, protecting, and empowering populations targeted by hateful acts and rhetoric.

Launched in response to the rise of physical and verbal attacks encouraged by "harsh rhetoric and policy proposals during the 2016 presidential campaign," the Communities Against Hate initiative will direct resources to community groups that are well positioned to provide support, services, technical assistance, outreach, and public education in the face of acts of hate. The initiative also will work to develop a national referral network to channel requests for legal and social services to victims; support new efforts to document, aggregate, and categorize hate incidents by type of offense, targeted community, and geographic location; and increase public awareness of the scale and scope of hate incidents, with the goal of encouraging investigations by state and local authorities as well as the U.S. Department of Justice. According to the New York Times, OSF plans to commit at least $5 million to the initiative in the coming weeks, awarding grants of up to $150,000.

Since November 8, the Southern Poverty Law Center has received more than seven hundred reports of "hateful harassment and intimidation." Open Society founder George Soros, a Holocaust survivor and immigrant from Hungary, told the Times he was "deeply troubled" by the hundreds of reports of possible hate crimes since the election, including Nazi swastikas spray-painted on cars and buildings. While denying that the $10 million commitment was meant to be a political statement on the election of Donald J. Trump, Soros said he believed campaign statements from Trump and his supporters were "directly responsible" for the recent wave of incidents.

"Through this initiative, a combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches, we join with the millions of Americans around the country who disavow hateful rhetoric and acts," said OSF president Christopher Stone. "We call on the leaders of our country in all sectors — business, faith, political, and otherwise — starting with the president and the president-elect — to denounce these attacks unequivocally and take steps to address them."

"Open Society Foundations Announce $10 Million Initiative to Confront Hate." Open Society Foundations Press Release 11/22/2016. Eric Lichtblau. "George Soros Pledges $10 Million to Fight Hate Crimes." New York Times 11/22/2016.