Gov. Baker Reinstates State Hate-Crime Task Force

Former Gov. Mitt Romney defunded the board in 2003, but it will reassemble after a slew of racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic incidents in Massachusetts.

Gov. Charlie Baker

Photo via Governor’s Office/Alastair Pike

Following a spate of racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic incidents in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker reinstated a state hate-crimes task force that has been dormant since 2003.

Baker signed an executive order Wednesday to reestablish the body, which will advise him on hate crime prevention and victim support. It will meet four times a year and be made up of appointees with backgrounds in law enforcement, education, and community advocacy.

The announcement comes on the heels of a recently released report from the Anti-Defamation League that identified a 32 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in New England since last year. Of the 132 instances in the region, 117 came out of Massachusetts, where there has been a 44 percent spike in reports.

According to the Boston Globe, Robert Trestan, the New England regional director of the ADL, will be a member of the reinstated task force, which he said, “puts us on a pathway to being creative and proactive about an issue that affects everyone.”

The governor’s order states that 424 hate crimes—which span intimidation, property damage, and assault—occurred in Massachusetts in 2015. The first iteration of the state’s hate crime task force was established in a letter by Gov. Bill Weld in 1991 and formally codified by Gov. Paul Cellucci in 1997. In 2003, newly inaugurated Gov. Mitt Romney eliminated funding for the task force.

The Globe reported that other members of the board will include Daniel Bennett, the state secretary of public safety and security, and Josh Kraft, the president of the Boys and Girls Club of Boston and son of Patriots owner Robert Kraft.