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Peters Calls for Increase in Funding to Protect Houses of Worship and Other Nonprofits Against Threats Amid Historic Levels of Hate Crimes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Amid a historic rise in hate crimes in the U.S., U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) is calling for additional funding to protect synagogues, mosques, gurdwaras, African-American churches, and other religious or non-profit institutions from potential attacks. Peters – alongside U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) – urged the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to allocate $500 million in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) for Fiscal Year 2024 as Congress negotiates a government funding deal in the coming weeks. As Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has continuously fought to increase funding for the NSGP, which provides grant funding to religious institutions and other nonprofits to help strengthen their security in the face of these rising threats and attacks. Last year, the NSGP distributed $305 million in funding, however, not all organizations that applied for funding received it. In August, $7.5 million in NSGP grant funding went to faith-based and other nonprofits across Michigan to help secure their facilities. Peters is pushing for an increase in funding to help meet growing demand for the program.

“Every American has a fundamental right to practice their faith and live in their community safely and peacefully,” said Senator Peters, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I’ve repeatedly fought to increase funding for this critical program to help houses of worship—including synagogues, mosques and gurdwaras—as well as other community nonprofits secure their facilities, particularly as the number of hate crimes in our country continues to rise. As hostilities in the Middle East lead to increased tensions at home, I strongly urge my colleagues to fund the program at $500 million to help keep our communities safe.”

Last year, the FBI recorded more than 11,000 hate crime incidents, the most since it started collecting this data in 1991. Organizations can use NSGP funds to invest in a variety of security measures, including installing physical target hardening measures like gates and motion lights, conducting preparedness and prevention planning exercises, and contracting security personnel.

This effort comes after Peters recently joined Jewish leaders at the Woodward Avenue Shul in Royal Oak to discuss his efforts to support the NSGP and help houses of worship protect their facilities and communities. In recent years, Peters also led bipartisan legislation to reauthorize this program and ensure it continues to have sufficient funding.

The full text of the letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership is available below:

Dear Chairwoman Murray, Ranking Member Collins, Chairwoman Granger, and Ranking Member DeLauro,

Thank you for your continued support for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP). Congress appropriated a record $305 million in funding for the NSGP in FY 2023. This funding was a crucial step towards meeting high demand for these critical security measures. However, the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel and the escalating conflict have elevated concerns of potential security threats to Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities and houses of worship across the country. As the war escalates, it must be expected that houses of worship and community centers of all faiths will require greater resources to improve their security. Therefore, as you draft the final Fiscal Year 2024 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, we respectfully request you fund the NSGP at no less than $500 million, with $250 million going towards eligible nonprofits in high-risk urban areas and $250 million going to eligible nonprofits outside such areas.

Domestic terrorism and hate crimes targeted at vulnerable communities are at historic highs. Last May, a white supremacist shot 13 and killed 10 in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York. In August 2023, a man wielding a swastika-emblazoned rifle killed three Black people at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida. Earlier this month, a man in Indiana was indicted for sending violent, antisemitic threats to four offices of the Anti-Defamation League. Hate and extremism continue to pose a threat to minority communities and we should ensure that we are able to provide robust support to our constituencies who are threatened by such violence.

While we are grateful many law enforcement departments around the country are proactively on high alert for hate crimes stemming from Hamas’ assault on Israel, we are already seeing virulent antisemitism at rallies across the country. Additionally, just this past weekend, a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy was tragically killed and his mother stabbed in what has been charged as a hate crime in response to current events in the Middle East. We are concerned that continued tensions may lead to increased hate crimes against the Jewish, Muslim, Arab and other communities. For these reasons, we respectfully urge you to increase funding for the NSGP in your final bill to a total of $500 million.