Safety Concerns at Places of Worship Prompts US Attorney to Hold Community Meeting

November 05, 2018 10:45 PM

On Monday, leaders of various synagogues, churches, immigrant centers, multi-national schools and culturally specific day cares.came to confront fear and combat hate crimes.

The public gathering, hosted by the U.S. Attorney's Office,  took place in Apple Valley.


"We as a community will not tolerate intolerance or crimes based on intolerance," U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald.

MacDonald sat among a panel of safety experts, including  representativeness from Homeland Security, the FBI, the United State Postal Service and the Jewish Council on Community Relations.  Prosecutors shared with the diverse crowd what constitutes hate crimes and what resources they have to prosecute cases of crime based on a person's religion, sex, race, disability or nationality. 

The meeting was in response to the shooting that took place on Oct. 27 at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. 

More from KSTP:

U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI to Hold Community Meeting on Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Monday in Apple Valley

11 Killed in Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting; 6 Wounded, Including 4 Officers

Keeping Your Place of Worship Safe: Minneapolis Church Holds Security Workshop

The Jewish Community Relations Council tracks hate crimes.  It said there have been 17 bias complaints in Minnesota this year. Such incidents has prompted the agency to hire it's first director of community security, who offered to do risk assessments at places of worship.

"We will take a real common sense look at what you can do to make your building hardened in security," said Dan Plekkenpol. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation looks into alleged hate crimes and turns over the results of any such investigation to the U.S. Attorney's ffice for review.  

"You deserve to have the right to live in America and live, love and worship however you see fit and do that without the expectation of harm," FBI Special Agent in Charge Jill Sanborn said.

Before the meeting ended, those in the crowd were advised to create a contact list of people to be called in the event of an emergency at their building. They also received an information sheet with the names, phone numbers and emails of experts at specific security agencies. 

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Beth McDonough

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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