Attorney General Eric Holder declared Monday that the Justice Department is on the lookout for acts of violence or discrimination that signal a backlash to the Boston Marathon bombings earlier this month in which three people were killed and scores wounded.
“Our investigation into this matter remains ongoing – and I want to assure you that my colleagues and I are determined to hold accountable, to the fullest extent of the law, all of those who were responsible for this attack,” Holder said, according to the prepared text of a speech delivered Monday to the Anti-Defamation League. “But I also want to make clear that – just as we will pursue relentlessly anyone who would target our people or attempt to terrorize our cities – the Justice Department is firmly committed to protecting innocent people against misguided acts of retaliation.”
Holder did not mention the backgrounds of the two alleged perpetrators. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was charged in federal court with using a weapon of mass destruction. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a violent encounter with police a few days after the bombings and is described as a co-conspirator in a court filing. Both men are Muslims and of Chechen descent. Investigators have not yet alleged a motive for the attack.
“In the dozen years since 9/11, this commitment has led the department to investigate more than 800 incidents involving threats, assaults, and acts of vandalism and violence targeting Muslims, Arabs, Sikhs, South Asians, and others who are perceived to be members of these groups,” Holder continued. “As Americans, we must not allow any group to be stigmatized or alienated. We must not tolerate acts of hatred. And we must reaffirm every day – through our actions as well as our approach – that justice and public safety are not in tension. They rely upon one another.”
“Let us…resolve once more to help our fellow citizens to meet fear with reason,” Holder told the ADL, a group founded a century ago to fight anti-Semitism. “This is how we will honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Let us strive to confront ignorance with information. This is how we will strengthen the American family. And let us promote understanding, encourage open dialogue, and divert suspicious or prejudiced gazes with outstretched hands. This is how we will overcome adversity, and transform today’s pain into tomorrow’s progress.”
See also “Fox News host: Denouncing violence against Muslims ‘could be perceived’ as offensive”, Raw Story, 29 April 2013