‘It shouldn’t be happening:’ Warner meets with Jewish leaders to talk efforts to stop hate crimes

Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Leaders at the Weinstein Jewish Community Center in Richmond met with Virginia Senator Mark Warner Friday as he spoke about efforts in Washington to stop hate crimes from happening. 

Recently, the Richmond area has seen an uptick in anti-Semitic acts.

Racist graffiti found on Godwin High School in Henrico County was labeled a possible hate crime in May and was one of many concerns members of the roundtable brought up to Sen. Warner.

“To people of the Jewish faith, it feels like an attack on us personally,” said Amy Melnick-Scarf, a parent of a recent Godwin High graduate. “It might simply appear as graffiti, it’s a very visceral and painful symbol to us.”

Melnick-Scarf is also a volunteer with the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond. She, and others there, were concerned about this possible hate crime. It’s something they also addressed with Sen. Warner Friday.

“In American in 2019, it shouldn’t be happening,” Sen. Warner told the group.

As someone who worked in technology, Virginia’s senior Senator says we must stop “hates from finding each other” on the web. 

An issue to debate, he says, is making sure social media users verify who they are so you know it’s not a robot or someone from another country.

“We have to worry about the ability for people to imitate Americans the way the Russians did in 2016 and create fake personas that drive Americans apart,” Sen. Warner said.

Congress is also talking about creating rules for social media companies because of how much people rely on them for information.

“Sixty-five percent of Americans get their news from Facebook and Google alone, well maybe there should be the same requirements on those in terms of content that applies to a television station,” Sen. Warner said.

Jewish Community Federation of Richmond members also brought up the need for more funding resources for security at places of worship and worries about oppression facing other faith communities, such as the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. 

Melnick-Scarf hopes Congress also takes a look at requiring schools to teach the Holocaust, so young people learn about this part of history so it does not repeat itself.  

With the support of Sen. Warner and others in the community, Melnick-Scarf is hopeful change can happen.

“Working together we can accomplish so much more to combat hate,” she added.

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