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March 10, 2017

Legislation Introduced to Help Protect JCCs, Non-Profits

(WASHINGTON) – Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, introduced the Securing American Non-Profit Organizations Against Terrorism Act of 2017 (H.R. 1486) to ensure that non-profits across the country that are at risk of terrorism have the Federal support needed to stay safe.  In just the first three months of 2017, there have been a spate of threats against 71 of the nation’s 151 Jewish Community Centers, five Anti-Defamation League locations, and several Jewish day schools located in 32 states.                                                                                                      

H.R. 1486 would authorize $30 million in grants for non-profits that the Department of Homeland Security deems to be at risk of a terrorist attack.  These funds could be used for security equipment, physical security and cybersecurity training, target hardening, terrorism awareness, or employee training. 

Ranking Member Thompson introduced this legislation to address the increase in threats to certain non-profit organizations across the country.  The recent uptick in threats against Jewish non-profit organizations reflects a recent trend of ideologically-based threats of violence against non-profit organizations located in communities large and small across the United States.   For example, there was a 2015 mass shooting of black parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina, a 2014 shooting at a Jewish Community Center outside Kansas City, and a 2012 shooting at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee.  In recent months, in addition to the frightening escalation of terrorist threats against Jewish institutions, an armed masked man was detained after protesting outside a Bozeman Montana Islamic Center; a letter received in South Carolina threatened a repeat of the Charleston Shooting; a dead pig was dropped at the Islamic Center of Lawton, Oklahoma;  and “Heil Trump,” a swastika, and a gay slur were spray-painted on St. David’s Episcopal Church in Bean Blossom, Indiana.

Congressman Thompson released the following statement on the bill:

“In recent years, we have seen a disturbing uptick in threats, harassment, and, in some cases, violence against non-profit organizations in communities across America.  This is an unprecedented threat fueled by terror and hate.  We owe it to our constituents to do all we can to protect community centers and non-profit organizations that allow Americans to safely congregate, worship, or engage in other community activities.  I introduced this bill to ensure the non-profits in communities big and small can access the resources necessary to make their facilities safe and serve the public.”    

Link to Fact Sheet

Link to legislation (H.R. 1486)

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Media contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978