UVA training aims to combat hate crimes

Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 3:49 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia offered training sessions on Thursday on how to best confront hate crimes through awareness and reporting.

“We want to be prepared for that in ways that are not only appropriate from the perspective of our competency but also appropriate for how we support the community,” said UVA Police Chief Tim Longo. “It’s an opportunity for us to look introspectively about our policies and practices, the way we investigate, [...] the way we train officers about these kinds of events.”

Among those who shared their personal stories of being impacted by crimes of hate was the mother of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was brutally murdered in 1998.

“This fight is for us to remind people that people are people, and we need to be taking care of each other, and not trying to harm or hurt or tear down another community,” said Judy Shepard. “We’re all just people trying to achieve the same thing in life, success and happiness.”

She is the president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which advocates for stronger hate crime laws and raises awareness to the violence faced by the LGBTQ+ community.

Louvon Harris, whose brother James Byrd Jr. was the victim of a horrific killing in Texas in 1998, also spoke.

“I really feel like it was necessary to come here to make sure everybody knows the impact of hate not only for the family, but how to fix the town itself,” said Harris, who is the president of the Byrd Foundation for Racial Healing.

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