NEW YORK—In response to the national wave of hate incidents, the threat of forcible removal of undocumented immigrants, and the fear pervading communities across the country, the Open Society Foundations today announced a $10 million initiative to support and protect those targeted by hateful acts.
Harsh rhetoric and policy proposals during the 2016 presidential campaign that drew on racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTI, and other forms of hate have encouraged a wave of physical and verbal attacks nationwide. The Southern Poverty Law Center has received over 700 reports of “hateful harassment and intimidation” since November 8.
The Open Society Foundations initiative is an effort to move swiftly to address this urgent problem, providing support designed to encourage and empower communities to resist the spread of hate and strengthen services and protections for their most vulnerable neighbors.
We stand in solidarity with the tens of millions of Americans of all political preferences who condemn these hateful words and deeds and embrace inclusion, tolerance, and hope. We applaud the many communities, organizations, advocates, and concerned families who are rising to meet this challenge, and invite others in the philanthropic community to join this fight to reaffirm core American values.
Among the components of this effort:
- Support to local community groups across the country working to de-escalate and head off future incidents of bullying, intimidation, bigoted slurs, assaults, desecration of houses of worship, and other acts that target persecuted populations. We will begin soliciting applications via our website next week, and plan to make funding decisions on an expedited basis, directing grants to organizations that are well positioned to provide support, services, technical assistance, outreach, and public education in the face of acts of hate.
- To complement that grassroots effort, support to help develop a national referral network to channel requests for legal and social services to those who have experienced acts of hate.
- Support for new efforts to document and aggregate incidents of hate as they happen, and categorize them by type of offense, targeted community, and geographic location.
- Support for efforts to increase public awareness of the scale and scope of hate incidents, with the goal of encouraging investigation of these offenses by state and local authorities as well as the Department of Justice.
In addition to these short-term measures, the initiative will seek to help bolster communities’ longer-term resilience and capacity to stand up to hate and overcome it.
“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 Christopher Stone, president of the Open Society Foundations. “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.”