RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After a steep rise in religious hate crimes last year, Attorney General Jason Miyares announced on Wednesday that his office had created a Task Force meant to monitor and combat acts of antisemitism in Virginia.

Miyares made the announcement during Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day on Wednesday, Feb. 8, when the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General traveled to Tidewater to meet with local members of the Jewish community.

The Task Force will focus on monitoring and investigating instances of antisemitism in Virginia, as well as offering education on what antisemitism means and can look like.

“Antisemitism is the oldest and most sustained form of bigotry known to mankind,” Miyares said. “American Jews have dealt with horrifying antisemitic discrimination and violence, and it continues today. My Antisemitism Task Force will help our office monitor, combat, and educate Virginians about hate against Jewish people.”

According to Miyares, this task force is the first of its kind in the country. It was created after the Governor’s Commission expressed a need to combat antisemitism in Virginia last year. In 2022, Virginia saw nearly 350 reports of antisemitic acts, according to the Governor.

The Task Force will initially include Office of Attorney General employees and the Attorney General will appoint leaders from the Jewish community in the coming months.

Religious discrimination is illegal under the Virginia Human Rights Act. Virginians should report antisemitic discrimination to the Virginia Office of Civil Rights. Any antisemitic acts of violence should be referred to the local authorities and the Virginia State Police.