Remarks by Vice President Harris on Making Communities Safer, Including Campuses of Historically Black Colleges and Universities
South Court Auditorium
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
3:20 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you so very much, Mr. President. (Applause.)
Hi, everybody. Good afternoon, everyone. Please have a seat. Good afternoon. Good afternoon. Good afternoon.
Thank you, President Hudson, for that introduction and for your strong and steady leadership as the president of Jackson State University, especially during this difficult time.
We are joined today by extraordinary national leaders — members of Congress; members of our administration, whom you’ve heard from; law enforcement officials, educators, students, and other community leaders. And we gather united against violence and against intimidation.
One year ago today, in Atlanta, eight people were killed in a horrific act of violence. Six out of the eight were of Asian descent. Seven were women. And these shootings took place in businesses owned by Asian Americans.
These acts were acts of terror that brought terror to the AA and NHPI community in Atlanta and to every community across our country when we witnessed the violence and the hate that was displayed that day. And they occurred in the midst of a dramatic increase in violence and discrimination against the AA and NHPI community.
Over the past year, our administration has taken action to protect our AA and NHPI communities. Last May, President Biden signed into law the bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. That law provides resources and training for state and local law enforcement to accurately identify and report hate crime, and addresses language and cultural barriers that often make it difficult for communities to report such crimes against them.
Today, one year after the attack, we are reminded of the terrible cost of violence, xenophobia, and hate. Every American should be able to learn, work, worship, and gather without fear. It is our duty to do everything we can to protect all our communities. A harm against any one of our communities is a harm against all of us.
So, our work continues. And as has been described since the beginning of the year, more than 80 anonymous bomb threats have been made against dozens of our HBCUs, against historically Black churches, against synagogues and other faith-based and academic institutions.
These threats have been made in phone calls and in instant messages, in emails, and online posts. These threats have brought fear and anxiety to places of peace, as has been mentioned — to sanctuaries, to schools where young people live and learn, to houses of worship where so many of us seek solace. They have caused classes to be canceled, dorms to be locked down, and communities of faith to be kept apart.
Over the past few months, our administration has been in constant communication with the leadership of these institutions, and we have held numerous briefings, trainings and stakeholder calls to gather and to share information. And as Attorney General Merrick Garland outlined, the Department of Justice has taken action to confront these attacks.
Today, I will share two new steps our administration is taking to ensure that our communities are protected and that they are supported.
Today, we are announcing that HBCUs that have received threats that significantly disrupt the learning environment are eligible for grant funding through our Department of Education and the leadership of Secretary Cardona.
These short-term grants, known as Project SERV grants, can be used to hire more mental health professionals, to enhance campus security, and to provide specialized training to security staff. And again, they will only be given to schools that have received threats that significantly impact the learning environment.
In addition, our administration is releasing a resource guide for colleges and universities with detailed information on detecting, preventing, and recovering from threats and acts of violence. And we will continue to work together with schools and houses of worship and all other impacted institutions to ensure safety and security.
Today, our administration is sending a very clear message. This intimidation will not stand, and we will not be intimidated. We will do everything in our power to protect all our communities from violence and from hate.
We are all in this together, and we must stand together.
Thank you all and take care. Thank you all. (Applause.)
END 3:26 P.M. EDT