The United States Attorney for the Virgin Islands, Gretchen C.F. Shappert, announced today that earlier this week the United States Department of Justice launched its new Civil Rights Reporting Portal, a new online portal whose aim is to make it easier for the public to report civil rights violations.
“The department is committed to upholding the civil and constitutional rights of all people in the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Reporting Portal will make it easier for the public to connect with us, which in turn makes us more effective at upholding these important rights. I encourage the public to use this portal to report civil rights violations.”
The announcement comes amid a changing atmosphere in the U.S. around civil rights following the death of George Floyd on May 25, a black man who was killed while in police custody. Mr. Floyd's death, which was viewed around the world and showed a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Mr. Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, unleashed a wave of protests around the world, and is forcing changes to police departments across America.
The Civil Rights Reporting Portal – located here – consolidates over 30 unique reporting pathways. The portal dramatically eases the burden on victims of civil rights violations to identify the proper reporting channel, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. The form is fully accessible to people with disabilities. It is also available in both English and Spanish, with more languages to be added over the next year. Members of the public will find it easier to tell their story, submit their report, and receive guidance on what to expect next. The new form is designed to help the Civil Rights Division receive information needed to process reports efficiently. Based upon users’ answers, the form routes reports to the most appropriate team in the Civil Rights Division. The teams will read and review every report, in order to determine how best to proceed.
Individuals who believe they may have been a victim of a civil rights violation can learn how to report violations to the Department by visiting civilrights.justice.gov. When appropriate, the Civil Rights Division staff will refer complainants to other agencies that are responsible for handling specific types of complaints.
“The Civil Rights Reporting Portal is a user-friendly reporting platform that will enable federal prosecutors and agents to identify and respond to alleged civil rights violations. The range of federal civil rights protections is very broad and includes voting, housing and land use, lending and credit, public accommodations, education, employment, policing, prisons and jails, disability rights, service-member rights and more," Shappert said. "The Portal helps the Department to more easily hear from and respond to victims of civil rights violations from across the country”. Shappert noted that the Department’s Civil Rights Division receives approximately 100,000 contacts from the public each year regarding potential civil rights violations. “The need for more effective reporting opportunities is great, which is why Department personnel worked for over a year to design a more streamlined reporting process."
Shappert also emphasized that individuals who believe they are a victim of a criminal violation of their civil rights, such as misconduct by law enforcement officers, a hate crime, or human trafficking, should contact their local FBI office.