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From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST--S.625
Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Majority
leader, after consultation with the Republican leader, may turn to the
consideration of S. 625, the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act, and
that it be considered under the following limitations:
There be 4 hours of debate on the bill equally divided between the
chairman and the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee; that each
leader or their designee be permitted to offer two relevant first-
degree amendments; that there be a time limitation of 1 hour for debate
on each first-degree amendment; that no second-degree amendments be in
order prior to a failed motion to table; that if a second-degree
amendment is offered, it be relevant to the first-degree and be limited
to 30 minutes for debate; that upon the disposition of the amendments
and the use or yielding back of time, the bill be read a third time and
the Senate vote on passage of the bill, without any intervening action
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
The Senator from Virginia.
Mr. ALLEN. On behalf of our leader, I object.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The objection is heard.
The Senator from Massachusetts.
Mr. KENNEDY. I see the majority leader on his feet, so I will wait
until he finishes, although I would like to perhaps ask him whether he
understands any reason that--as I understand, this is a motion to
proceed; is that correct? Was this a motion to proceed to the bill
included in the majority leader's request?
Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, this is not only a motion to proceed but
it would be the circumstances under which we would consider the bill
Mr. KENNEDY. This is the legislation which we have addressed in this
body that was passed by a vote of 56 to 42, I believe as an amendment
on the Defense authorization bill last year; am I correct?
Mr. DASCHLE. The Senator is correct. We have addressed this
legislation in the past. As I will make known for the record, this is
identical legislation to what was passed before. It is legislation we
will take up either under a unanimous consent agreement or through a
motion to proceed at some point in the not too distant future.
My hope was we could work out arrangements whereby we could expedite
the consideration of the legislation. As the Senator has accurately
noted, we have addressed this successfully in the past and it is
critical that we have an opportunity once again to ensure that this
time the legislation does not die in conference. That is what happened.
The amendment was dropped in the conference committee, even though the
Senate had passed on a bipartisan basis this bill as an amendment to
the Defense authorization legislation.
Mr. KENNEDY. I stand corrected. The vote was 57 to 42 in the Senate.
As the Senator knows, we passed this on a UC in 1999 by 57 to 42. It
has been reported out of the Judiciary Committee 12 to 7. In a vote on
this issue in the House of Representatives, there were 232 Republicans
and Democrats alike who effectively supported it.
I ask the Senator a final question. This past week we had one of the
most extraordinary events that we experience annually, when the police
officers gather on the westside of the Capitol. The names were read of
233 officers who died in the line of the duty, a good part of those who
died in the terrorist acts. No one asked those law enforcement
officials what their race was, what their ethnicity was, what their
religion or sexual orientation was. They died.
We all take a great sense of pride in their service to this country.
We have all taken a great sense of pride in the work of selfless
individuals who tried to help the victims during this period: organized
blood drives, organized assistance to the families, without asking
about their race or religion or ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Is the Senator perplexed, as we celebrate both the lives that were
lost and celebrate the extraordinary heroism and gallantry of the men
and women, does the Senator find it somewhat ironic we cannot in this
body make sure we are going to protect those individuals from the
vicious acts of bigotry and hatred and prejudice taking place in the
United States, acts that have actually escalated in recent years?
Does the Senator feel a sense of frustration about why this body
cannot come to grips with a reasonable debate and discussion, as we
have in the past, and have action, either for or against this?
Does he not share the concern of many families, and the 500 religious
leaders from all of the great faiths that urged this body to pass this
legislation expeditiously, and share the frustration they are feeling
as religious and moral leaders?
Does the Senator feel we have an important responsibility to get to
this legislation and consider it and take action and do it in an
Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, the Senator from Massachusetts has asked
some very good questions.
I share his frustration and his utter dismay that a bill of this
importance would have difficulty passing the Senate right now. How can
anyone be opposed to a bill that is already supported by 500
organizations? How can anyone be opposed to a bill that has already
passed on an overwhelming basis--in one case, unanimously?
How can anyone be opposed to a bill that addresses the fact that
almost every day at least three hate crimes on the average are
committed? How can anyone be opposed to a bill with the title Local Law
Enforcement Enhancement Act? For the life of me, I don't understand.
At the end of the day, whatever day it is, this legislation will
pass. It will pass the easy way or the hard way, but it will pass. We
will not adjourn without having passed this legislation. It is that
critical. The time has come and gone for delay, for explanation, for
excuse, for anything else. There is no reason why this legislation
should not pass by an overwhelming bipartisan margin.
I appreciate the comments of the Senator from Massachusetts and his
extraordinary leadership in this issue. I join in acknowledging the
importance of this legislation and asking our colleagues to join in
ensuring its passage.
Mr. KENNEDY. Those assurances, Mr. President, are enormously
important and a tribute to all Americans, one of the great challenges
to free ourselves from all forms of discrimination.
I acknowledge the strong support and leadership of Senator Gordon
Smith, a prime mover on this among our Republican colleagues. Also,
Senator Specter has been a very strong supporter.
This is a matter of conscience and a defining value for us as a
Since the tragedies of September 11, a new spirit has grown across
America--one where individuals and communities come together to help
those in need. We have praised the brave actions of the firefighters
and police officers who gave their lives to save others, and we have
done so without inquiring about their sexual orientation, gender, race,
or religion. We appropriately call heroes the men and women who,
without regard for their own lives, saved the lives of strangers--and
we have never asked if they were gay or lesbian; African American,
Asian American, White, or Latino. It is important to take this spirit
to the next level, to come together as a nation to stop the
perpetration of senseless act of violence against individuals because
of the religion they practice, the color of their skin or their sexual
Hate crimes are a national disgrace--an attack on everything this
country stands for. Attorney General Ashcroft recently compared the
fight against hate crimes to the fight against terrorism, describing
hate crimes as ``criminal acts that run counter to what is best in
America--our belief in equality and freedom.''
Although America experienced a significant drop in violent crime
during the 1990s, the number of hate crimes has continued to grow. In
fact, according to FBI statistics, in 2000 there were nearly 8,000
reported hate crimes committed in the United States. That's over 20
hate crimes per day, every day.
Hate crimes send a poisonous message that some Americans are second
class citizens who deserve to be victimized solely because of their
race, their ethnic background, their religion, their sexual
orientation, their gender or their disability. These senseless crimes
have a destructive and devastating impact not only on individual
victims, but entire communities. If America is to live up to its
founding ideals of liberty and justice for all, combating hate crimes
must be a national priority.
Yet for too long, the federal government has been forced to stand on
the sidelines in the fight against these senseless acts of hate and
violence. The hate crimes bill will change that by giving the Justice
Department greater ability to investigate and prosecute these crimes,
and to help the states do so as well. Now is the time for Congress to
speak with one voice, insisting that all Americans will be guaranteed
the equal protection of the laws. We must pay more than lip service to
this core principle of our democracy. We must give those words
practical meaning in our modern society. No Americans should feel that
they are second-class citizens because Congress refuses to protect them
against hate crimes.
S. 625 is the same bipartisan bill passed two years ago with 57
votes. Over the last 2 years, support for passage of this bill has only
grown, as more and more Senators become aware that hate crimes impact
every community, every neighborhood and every family across the nation.
We can and should pass this legislation swiftly. Not another day
should pass before we take action to fight and prevent these senseless
acts of violence.
I thank the leadership for giving the American people the assurances
we will take action on this legislation.
Mr. DASCHLE. I thank the Senator again for his presence on the floor
and his strong statement.
I add a couple of additional thoughts. In 1996, two women were found
murdered, their hands bound, their throats cut, just off the
Appalachian trail in Shenandoah National Park. Their deaths were
profound tragedies for those families and their loved ones. They also
sparked a wave of fear among women and the gay community, that what
happened to those two hikers could just as easily happen to them.
That response, that fear, is exactly what makes hate crimes different
from all other crimes. They target individuals, but they intimidate and
dehumanize entire groups of people. Last month, Attorney General
Ashcroft announced that the defendant in this case will be tried using
the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act. This is the first time a
Federal murder prosecution will use this provision of the law.
At his press conference announcing the indictments, Attorney General
Criminal acts of hate run counter to what is best in
America--our belief in equality and freedom.
Attorney General Ashcroft is absolutely right. Americans know that
hate crimes injure the victim, the community, and the entire Nation. No
one should be attacked simply because of his or her race, religion,
gender, physical disabilities, or sexual orientation. However, it is
ironic to hear the Attorney General say that the Department of Justice
will aggressively investigate, prosecute, and punish criminal acts of
violence motivated by hate and intolerance. It is ironic because the
only reason the Attorney General is able to pursue this case in this
manner is because the two women were on Federal property when the crime
was committed. Had this tragedy occurred outside the National Park, it
would have been up to the State and local authorities, and the
sentencing enhancement that the Justice Department is seeking would not
have even been a possibility.
As Senator Kennedy has said, until we pass the hate crimes
legislation pending before Congress, the promise to aggressively
prosecute hate crimes is an empty promise. For several years now we
have attempted to pass the hate crimes legislation that he and others
have introduced. I included it as part of our leadership bills
introduced at the beginning of this Congress because I believe it is
much more than a Democratic priority. It ought to be a national
The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act would assist State and
local authorities when a hate crime such as the Shenandoah murders
occurs within their jurisdiction. The bill would expand current Federal
protections against hate crimes based on race, religion, and national
origin. It would amend the criminal code to cover hate crimes based on
gender, sexual orientation, and disability. It would authorize grants
for State and local programs designed to combat and prevent hate
crimes, and help the Federal Government to assist State and local law
enforcement officials investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.
I might say, Mr. President, this is directed just as much at those
who are the perpetrators of hate for reasons of religion. There is a
rising and disconcerting trend in anti-Semitism in this country that
also ought to be addressed. Hate crimes are committed in the name of
anti-Semitism just as they are committed with other motivations. Those
who profess to be concerned about anti-Semitism in this country ought
to be concerned about the passage of this legislation. That also is why
I am troubled by those who now choose, for whatever reason, to oppose
this unanimous consent request and oppose moving this legislation
In the fall of 2000 this same legislation passed the Senate as an
amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill, as we noted
just a minute ago. There is no more need to delay. If we could pass it
before, we can pass it again. We know the need is clear, the support is
there. It is time to finish the job we started 2 years ago. We need to
pass the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act and pass it quickly.
"Talk of The Trail"
By DEREK BARR News-Record Staff Writer
Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) - June 10, 1996.
Hikers Step Up Their Guard In Aftermath Of Slayings
By DEREK BARR News-Record Staff Writer SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK -- The slaying of two female hikers in Shenandoah National Park isn't keeping people from the park, but it was definitely the main topic of conversation among visitors Wednesday.
"We're normally a little paranoid, now we'll be very paranoid," said Dan Braun of New York City, who was traveling through the park with his wife Mary and their young son.
Authorities Wednesday weren't releasing much new information on the deaths of Julianne Williams, 24, of St. Cloud, Minn., and Lollie Winans, 26, of Unity, Maine. The women were found Saturday with their throats slashed at their campsite off Skyline Drive near milepost 42, close to Skyland Lodge.
Terry Lewis of the Bureau of Land Management, serving as information officer for the incident, said officials still weren't releasing any details such as the time of death, whether the women were robbed and whether the condition of the site indicated a struggle. Medical tests are still being conducted, he said.
"It's a wide-open investigation," said Lewis.
The area near the women's campsite was still cordoned off Wednesday, and a ranger was posted nearby to discourage any curious onlookers. The woods were being combed by agents of the FBI and National Park Service, but none would comment on the case.
Lewis said flyers bearing the women's pictures were being prepared and will be handed out to park visitors in the hope that someone who may have seen them will provide new information. Williams and Winans were last seen May 24; their camping permit, obtained May 22, indicated they were to leave the park May 27.
Anyone with information on the women is urged to call toll-free 1- 888-856-2467. The Park Service had initially given an incorrect number, Lewis said.
The women were traveling with a golden retrieverLabrador mix named Taj, who was found unharmed in the area and is being cared for by the Park Service, he said.
The Brauns were camping Sunday night between Luray and Front Royal. After hearing of the killings, they had decided to refrain from camping, but they were haggling over that decision Wednesday.
"If we do camp, it will be where there's a lot of people," Mary Braun said.
Although officials have said there is nothing to indicate the slayings are anything other than an "isolated incident," Lewis said no conclusions should be drawn either way. The park hasn't been closed, but officials are concerned about hikers, he said. Authorities have not said whether they have any suspects or whether they believe the apparent killer -- or killers -- remains in the park.
Extra security has been brought in to inform visitors, and notices were posted throughout the park citing safety tips for back-country users.
Lewis said he expects some back-country users are worried, and he hopes that will make them cautious.
"I'm sure there is (concern among hikers). I hope there is," he said.
Shenandoah National Park officials have been in contact with other national parks for information on any similar incidents, said Lewis, but he added that no links had been found.
Hilary Bralove and Ina Szwec, both of West Palm Beach, Fla., had planned to ride bicycles and hike through Shenandoah National Park, but news of the slayings effectively canceled those plans.
"We'd feel much better about hiking if this hadn't happened," Bralove said Wednesday.
"I keep hearing that music from `Deliverance,' " Szwec added.
Bralove said that she let Szwec get ahead of her on a trail, then she used a deep voice and yelled "Hey!" With that, Szwec jumped into the air, Bralove said.
Al and Char Appel are from Minneapolis, in Williams' home state. They just got to the park Wednesday and spotted a bear. They said they're not concerned about the slayings, but added that they're not camping in the park.
"We're not worried," Appel said.
"I got more scared when we saw the bear," his wife said.
Park officials recommend that back-country users hike in groups of two or more; tell family and friends of your itinerary and timetable; be cautious of strangers, especially inquisitive ones, and tell no one of your route or planned camping location; and do not set up campsites near roads or developed areas.
"Trail Group Reacts to Murder"
By DAN McCAULEY News-Record Staff Writer
Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) - June 10, 1996.
Hikers who find recreation in the outdoors are saying last week's throat-slashing killing of two women in Shenandoah National Park has brought out a sense of violation and the loss of a place that had seemed free of crime and violence.
Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) - June 10, 1996
That's the sentiment of Bryant King, spokesman for the Appalachian Trail Conference, an organization headquartered in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
"There's a sense of intrusion or invasion," King said. "What's being violated is the expectation that's deeply rooted in outdoor recreation people -- and that's the believe that this is a sanctuary."
Last week, the bodies of Julie Williams, 24, and Lollie Winans, 26, were found in a campsite near Skyland Lodge in the national park. Discovery of the bodies started a week-long investigation into the women's death and a printing of a poster offering a $25,000 reward leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible.
King said trail hikers are giving whatever information they have to law enforcement officials investigating the killings.
Meanwhile, investigators are reportedly looking into statements made by employees of Skyland Lodge that they saw the women just two days before the bodies were found in the camp.
The sightings would indicate the women were alive nearly a week later than the May 23 that authorities have said was the last time that Williams and Winans were last seen. The women had been due to leave their campsite May 26, but authorities have not indicated when they were killed.
"I definitely remember the brunette (Williams) because she was so pretty. I'm sure it was her," Becky Knighting, a server at the Skyland Lodge restaurant, told The Washington Post.
She said she was "almost certain" she saw the women in the restaurant on May 30 or 31.
Debbie Taylor, another server, said she saw two women resembling Williams and Winans as she headed for her evening shift at the restaurant May 30. She said the two women and a dog were standing next to a group of eight to 10 backpackers who had gathered outside the restaurant.
Terry Lewis, a park spokesman, said Friday he could not verify the witnesses' statements given to the FBI.
King, meanwhile, said he thinks the two women's death has brought a realization to hikers that their trail also is accessible to others and it may not be as safe as once thought.
"It's a clash of expectations with reality -- the reality that the trail is as accessible to jerks or creeps as it is to people who truly enjoy the trail and the outdoors. That's something a lot of people probably hadn't thought about.
"I'm constantly amazed at how deep-rooted that expectation is. People who go hiking or walking in the woods for any reason might make an assumption that the national parks are safe from the problems and threats in everyday life," King said.
The killing of Williams, a Minnesota resident, and Winans, a Maine resident, prompted the National Park Service to issue advisory statements to hikers and back-country campers about ways to reduce their risks of being victims of crime.
But King repeated that feelings of being violated are stronger for hikers than fears of being attacked and killed.
"It's not fear, as we keep seeing in some headlines," he said. "Yes, there's a little more apprehension and people are hiking in larger groups. But mostly, they're just bummed out that there is another bit of peace and sanctuary lost.
"An analogy I heard the other day is about the fellow that went into the mosque in Israel and shot everybody up. That was instinctively more of a violation than if he had done the same thing on the sidewalk outside. And if these two women had been murdered in downtown Harrisonburg, would we be talking it the way we are?" King said.
While trail hikers may be discussing the killings as they walk the Appalachian Trail, park and law enforcement officials hope to get the message about the two women to a large group through a poster that has been printed.
The poster features photographs of the two women and their companion dog, Taj.
It is still being distributed to places where hikers may go such as visitors center in the park, area restaurants and other stops along the Appalachian Trail, said Lyn Rothgeb, spokeswoman for the park. She said the posters probably will not be distributed over a wide area until next week.
Posters have been placed in both Skyland and Big Meadows lodges -- private businesses in the national park -- and managers there said the posters are being noticed by guests, but little or no comments are being made about the incident.
Beth Good, manager of Skyland, and Nick Smith, Big Meadows manager, both said news of the killings has not prompted anyone to stay away this weekend.
"Business is pretty much normal for this time of year," she said.
King said most of the hikers who were in the Skyland area last weekend and during the week to see the investigation by national park rangers should be getting to the Appalachian Trail headquarters by this weekend. Having them there could prompt discussions of what happened to Williams and Winans.
So far, King said he has not heard a great deal of discussion of killings.
"It's not excessive. It's not overwhelming," he said, "but it's there."
Meanwhile, a homosexual rights group is pressing the Justice Department to investigate the possibility that two women hikers who died of slashed throats were victims of anti-gay violence.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said a letter sent Friday to Attorney General Janet Reno suggested that the killers of Julianne Williams and Lollie Winans may have believed them to be lesbians.
"We are asking for your help to insure that the FBI and the National Park Service are diligent in investigating all aspects of these crimes, including the possibility that the murders were motivated by anti-lesbian bias," wrote Melinda Paras, director of the task force.
Associated Press material is included in this story.
I definitely remember the brunette (Williams) . . . I'm sure it was her. Skyland employee
"Gay Group Wants Bias Angle Known"
Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) - June 17, 1996
By RICHARD PRIOR News-Record Staff Writer
A homosexual advocacy group is not looking for "special treatment" in the investigation of two slain women hikers, but wants to make sure the public is aware that anti-lesbian bias may have motivated the killer, a spokesman said Wednesday.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington, D.C., has gotten no response to a letter sent Friday to Attorney General Janet Reno, asking her to consider that the deaths of Lollie Winans and Julianne Williams may have been hate crimes, task force spokesman Tracey Conaty said Wednesday.
Searchers found the bodies of Winans and Williams, who were hiking together, June 1 near the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park. Both women's throats had been cut.
"We're not asking for any special treatment, but if the motivation is bias, we do want that revealed; we don't want that aspect ignored," Conaty said.
The organization was spurred to send the letter after reading statements in the media that anti-lesbian bias might have initially been ruled out.
"If that's the case, we want to know why," Conaty said. "We're not saying it was (a hate crime). We just have the responsibility to make sure that possibility's not ignored."
An FBI agent said Wednesday that investigators have "ruled out no motive" in the case.
According to The Associated Press, a Presbyterian minister in Burlington, Vt., identified Winans and Williams as lesbians. The Rev. Rebecca Strader, whose congregation reportedly welcomes homosexuals, was quoted in The Washington Blade, a newspaper that serves the gay and lesbian community.
Strader has an unlisted telephone number and has been unavailable for comment.
The women met through an outdoors organization and arranged their hiking trip several weeks ago.
"One of the important reasons for getting these crimes designated accurately is that we need to know the extent that they're happening," Conaty said. "People need to know the risk is out there.
"When they don't get talked about honestly, people are misled into believing they're not a problem."
At least one of the mothers of the latest victims learned of her daughter's lesbian lifestyle only after her death, news reports indicated.
Anti-lesbian bias has been blamed for at least one other killing along the Appalachian Trail, the AP has reported. Claudia Brenner reportedly survived five shots, but her companion, Rebecca Wight, died in a hail of gunfire in 1988 near Gettysburg, Pa. They were shot after reportedly performing a lesbian sex act alongside a stream.
They were shot several times by a man who observed the act. He is is now serving a life sentence for the attack. He reportedly lived in a cave near the scene of the shooting.
Attorney General Transcript
News Conference with USA John Brownlee
Indictment of Darrell David Rice
April 10, 2001
DOJ Conference Center
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: Good morning.
On June the 1st, 1996, the bodies of Julianne Marie Williams and Laura "Lollie" S. Winans were discovered in the mountains of Virginia in the Shenandoah National Park, bound and gagged, with their throats cut. This morning I'm announcing the indictment returned yesterday in the Western District of Virginia against Darrell David Rice for these brutal killings. Darrell David Rice is charged with four counts of capital murder, two of which allege that he intentionally selected his victims because of his hatred of women and homosexuals.
Today's murder indictment specifically invokes a federal sentencing enhancement enacted to ensure justice for victims of hate crimes. If convicted of any of the charges in the indictment, Darrell David Rice could face the death penalty.
Julianne Marie Williams and Lollie Winans were young women who loved life and cherished every single day. Lollie was completing her studies at Unity College in Maine. She was in the final stages of becoming an accredited guide. She loved the outdoors and she loved to introduce people to the outdoors because she believed that, as she did, others would find themselves particularly happy and fulfilled in the outdoors. Upon her death, Unity College called her mother and father a few months later to receive the degree that she has been working on.
America will be without the contribution that Lollie would otherwise have made, and it would have been substantial.
Similarly, Julie was a student of great achievement, went to school in Carlton, Minnesota, graduated summa cum laude. She was interested in helping migrant workers; spoke Spanish; cared about and worked with families that were abused, had difficulty; was part of a group of individuals whose knowledge of geology and the natural world was valuable in terms of our culture and what we could do to make sure that we respected the world in which we live; was interested in the Lake Champlain Project.
Earlier today I had an opportunity to meet the parents of these young women, who are with us this morning. And now, as then, I struggled to express the deep sadness that we feel for the great loss of these families. We pray for their families.
These families have suffered what Americans now know all too well. That's the pain and destruction wrought by hate. Just as the United States will pursue, prosecute, and punish terrorists who attack America out of hatred for what we believe, we will pursue, prosecute, and punish those who attack law-abiding Americans out of hatred for who they are. Hatred is the enemy of justice, regardless of its source. We will not rest until justice is done for Julianne Marie Williams and for Lollie Winans.
The indictment of David -- Darrell David Rice is the result of an investigation begun late May 1996, when Miss Williams and Miss Winans, who were hiking along a trail in the Shenandoah National Park, were reported missing. Days later, the discovery of their brutally murdered bodies set off a multi-jurisdictional manhunt in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Park Service joined forces to follow up on an estimated 15,000 leads and contacts. As a notice filed this morning with the court explains, in 1998 Darrell David Rice pled guilty and was convicted of attempted abduction of a female bicyclist, also in the Shenandoah National Park. Evidence presented at the guilty plea and sentencing of Rice established that he accosted the woman, angrily screamed sexual references towards her, and attempted to force her into his truck.
When that victim successfully resisted Rice and took cover behind a tree, Rice attempted to run over her with his vehicle. After his arrest, investigators recovered hand and leg restraints in Rice's truck. As a result of his conviction, Rice is currently serving a 135-month federal sentence.
Today's indictment charges that Rice singled out Julianne Marie Williams and Laura Winans for murder because of their gender or sexual orientation. As outlined in the government's pleadings, Rice has stated on several occasions that he enjoys assaulting women because they are, in his words, quote, "more vulnerable," close quote, than men. The government's notice sets forth numerous incidents in which Rice acted in a hostile and violent manner toward women solely because they were women. In addition, the government's notice describes evidence of Rice's hatred for homosexuals, including his statement that Julianne Williams and Laura Winans deserved to die because he believed they were homosexuals.
Several individuals deserve our thanks and our praise for their exemplary work on this case. Special Agent Jane L. Collins (sp) for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Special Agent Timothy W. Alley (sp) of the National Park Service coordinated the investigation of the literally thousands of leads and contacts in this case.
And we have put together a prosecution team that promises to take full advantage of the solid foundation that was laid by the investigation. Prosecuting Darrell David Rice will be Criminal Chief of the Western District of Virginia, Thomas J. Bondrant, Jr. (sp), and Western District of Virginia Assistant United States Attorney Anthony P. Gorno (sp).
I thank as well the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, John Brownlee, for his dedication to seeing that justice is done for these victims. And the special agent in charge of the Western District of Virginia, Don Thompson (sp), and the special agent in charge from the FBI for the National Park Service, Clark Guy (sp). I'm pleased that these individuals here are with me this morning.
Criminal acts of hate run counter to what is best in America -- our belief in equality and freedom. The Department of Justice will aggressively investigate, prosecute and punish criminal acts of violence and vigilantism motivated by hate and intolerance.
Since September the 11th, the Civil Rights Division, in cooperation with the FBI and U.S. attorneys, have investigated approximately 350 incidents of violence or threats against Americans perceived to be of Middle Eastern origin. Working with our partners in law enforcement, approximately 65 state and local criminal prosecutions have been initiated against almost 80 individuals. Federal charges have been brought in 10 cases.
The Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs is currently funding approximately 18 grants, totaling $15.5 million, to address the unique issues involved with hate crimes. In addition, our budget contains a request for $5 million to identify trends in the commission of hate crimes by geographic region and type of crime committed and the number of hate crimes, prosecutions and convictions obtained.
Our message this morning is unambiguous and clear. The volatile, poisonous mixture of hatred and violence will not go unchallenged in the American system of justice. By invoking the hate crimes enhancement parts of sentencing enhancement today, today's murder indictment makes clear our commitment to seek every prosecutorial advantage and to use every available statute to secure justice for victims like Julianne Marie Williams and Lollie Winans.
Thank you all. I'd be pleased to respond to your questions.
Q Do we know how he knew or if he knew they were -- their sexual orientation? In other words, did he see them at the park? Was that --
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: I'm not prepared to go beyond the terms of the matters submitted in court. No information in that respect is submitted to the court.
Q Sir, can you tell us anything about Mr. Rice -- what kind of work he did, where he lived, what he was doing in the park?
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: We've alleged, obviously, in the indictment and in the information submitted to the court that in the park he committed these acts. I can't give you further information about it yet.
Q Sir, what was the break in the case? How long has he been a suspect, and how did this all come together? Can you tell us?
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: I don't know if you'll --
MR. BROWNLEE: Certainly.
Yes, in 19 --
Q Your name, please?
MR. BROWNLEE: My name is John Brownlee. I'm the United States attorney for the Western District. In July of 1997 the defendant was arrested for attempting to abduct a woman in the national park.
That is why he is currently incarcerated. Interviews subsequent to his arrest led us to believe that he may have been involved, which began -- which allowed the investigation to focus on Mr. Rice, which has led to his indictment here today.
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: Mm-hmm.
Q Mr. Attorney General, back in the '80s there was a belief that the Shenandoah murders may have been linked to what was called the Colonial Parkway murders. Was there ever a link established one way or the other? Perhaps the other --
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: Is that the Highway 29 murders?
MR. : No, sir.
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: No --
MR. : (Off mike) -- separate cases.
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: They're different cases.
MR. : (Off mike) -- Parkway is down in Tidewater. The Route 29 stalker --
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: Let me just say this. It would be inappropriate for me to speak outside the indictment about any nexus. I just wondered if that's what you had reference to.
Q If I may change subjects, sir, last week a man who's named Mr. Hamdi was flown from Guantanamo to -- I believe, to a military base in Virginia, and I'm wondering if you can say anything about the extent of Justice Department interest in him, if any, and what his status is.
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: Obviously, the Department of Defense has had custody of this individual, and whether or not he would be the subject of any effort at prosecution would only come as a result of an investigation. The department is not in a position to make an announcement about an investigation at this time.
Q Will you now support the pending hate crime legislation in Congress?
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: The pending hate crime legislation in Congress is under review in the Justice Department at this time. And pending the outcome of that review, we would make an announcement if we chose to support the legislation.
Q Are you inclined to support it?
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: We're inclined to prosecute hate crimes like this one -- prosecute them to the fullest. The utilization of the sentencing enhancement procedures that relate to both gender and homosexuality in this instance are key to our ability to request the death penalty in cases like this.
STAFF: Last question.
Q Where is Darrell David Rice currently being held?
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: I'll defer as to the institution. Do you know?
MR. BROWNLEE: Yes, sir. He is in Petersburg Federal Penitentiary.
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: Thank you all very much.