We cannot and must not dismiss or minimize this terrible event as the action of a single, depraved individual. We cannot minimize or ignore the facts; we can’t overcome the fear and ignorance at the heart of racism without understanding its entire context, including some of the ugliest episodes in our country’s history. We also know, as former law enforcement officials, that there has been historic and understandable distrust of government in Asian American, Native Hawaii, and Pacific Islander communities. That leads to underreporting of hate crimes and bias incidents to law enforcement, especially at the earliest stages of the appearance of a potential threat.
So, for all the progress we have made, much more is required to build the trust needed for effective law enforcement. We vow to reach out and to listen better – and to act. And we call on the Department of Justice to redouble its efforts to work with and encourage its state and local partners to do even more to address acts of hatred and bigotry, including by maintaining and providing better data regarding them.
For each of us, the Department of Justice has been our professional home, but it also represents so much more. Since the moment of its birth in 1870, a core value of the Justice Department has been the fight to protect the most vulnerable among us. The men and women who make up its ranks carry on this proud tradition today, and will do so again and again, whenever and wherever there are communities under threat because of their race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or orientation.
Finally, we want to say this clearly. Those who encourage and incite hatred and violence also bear responsibility for these acts of horror. Words matter — whether you spew hatred in public or from the dark corners of social media. We are aware of what you are doing, there are far more of us than there are of you, and now, we are more united than ever.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
5 Things To Know About... US Attorney BJay Pak
The above open letter was signed by more than 130 former U.S. Attorneys who represented jurisdictions from coast to coast. Atlantan BJay Pak, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 2017 to 2021, was among the signatories and a leader in this effort.