FBI Birmingham
Public Affairs Specialist Paul E. Daymond
(205) 279-1457
September 19, 2019

Hate Crimes in Houses of Worship

Topic of BCRI and Federal Bureau of Investigation Annual Conference

BIRMINGHAM, AL—The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s Birmingham Division will host their 14th annual joint conference on Sunday, September 29 and Monday, September 30, 2019, at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham.

The general public is invited to hear a lineup of more than a dozen federal, state, and local law enforcement and community leaders speak to recent tragic events involving hate crimes, including mass shootings in houses of worship. The conference is free, but registration is required at https://www.bcri.org/fbi-conference/.

The conference will begin in the church sanctuary on Sunday, September 29 at 3:00 p.m. with registration and a performance by the A.H. Parker High School Choir. The 4 p.m. keynote speaker is Sharon Davies, J.D., author of Rising Road: A True Tale of Love, Race, and Religion in America. Davies’ keynote will be followed by a panel discussion on hate crimes in houses of worship, which will feature panelists from diverse religious backgrounds. Attendees will then have the opportunity to attend a reception followed by a tour of the BCRI, with tours led by the students of the BCRI’s Legacy Youth Leadership program.

Monday’s agenda begins at 8 a.m. and the day includes presentations from Barbara Bosserman, Deputy Chief, Cold Case Units of the Department of Justice, a retrospect on the Sutherland Springs (TX) church shooting and Prevention of Mass Shootings by Hector Morales (FBI).

“Hate crimes remain the highest priority of the FBI’s civil rights program due to the devastating impact they have on families and communities. Everyone who attends a service deserves to do so in peace, and our hope with this conference is to continue to educate our faith communities about civil rights laws, maintain open dialogue, and encourage ongoing cooperation between law enforcement and the faith community,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr.

“Sadly, places of worship are increasingly a target for attack by domestic terrorists, who seek to promote hate and fear in U.S. communities,” noted Andrea L. Taylor, President and CEO of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. “Earlier this week, the Birmingham community gathered to commemorate the 56th memorial observance of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church along with special guests that included the Pastor and members of the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where a deadly attack occurred in 2015,” she continued. “This year’s joint FBI/BCRI conference will examine the racial and religious factors linked to these heinous crimes, how to find forgiveness after hate, and examine how evidence is uncovered,” says Taylor.

Local news anchor Sherri Jackson will be the Mistress of Ceremonies. The following is a list of conference panelists and presenters:

  • A.H. Parker High School Choir
  • Barbara Bosserman, Deputy Chief of Cold Case Unit, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Sharon Davies, J.D., Author
  • Pardeep Kaleka, Executive Director, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee
  • Arno Michaelis, Author and Motivational Speaker
  • Hector Morales, Special Agent, FBI San Antonio Division
  • Rev. Arthur Price, Pastor, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
  • Jay Town, U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Alabama
  • Johnnie Sharp Jr., Special Agent in Charge, FBI Birmingham Division
  • Jasvinder Singh, M.D., Sikh Community
  • John Martignoni, Director, Catholic Diocese of Birmingham Evangelization
  • Ashfaq Taufique, Hoover Crescent Islamic Center
  • Andrea L. Taylor, President and CEO, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
  • T.K. Thorne, Author and Retired Birmingham Police Officer
  • Rev. Thomas Wilder, Pastor, Bethel Baptist Church
  • Randall Woodfin, Mayor of Birmingham

Since 2006, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Birmingham Division, have joined forces to develop training models for law enforcement officials and the community. The resulting conferences on law enforcement and civil rights examine the history of the Civil Rights Movement and encourage law enforcement officials and the community to reflect upon their personal and professional responsibilities in our pluralistic society. The discussion is designed to build trust and open the lines of communication between law enforcement agencies, their personnel, and the communities they serve.