Panel discussion to focus on hate crimes targeting religious institutions

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Federal agencies, local law enforcement and Columbus area interfaith leaders will speak at an upcoming panel aimed at preventing violence against houses of worship.

A public forum on “Protecting Places of Worship Through Education and Dialogue” will be held at Columbus City Hall on Sept. 27 from 6 to 9 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. According to the Columbus Human Rights Commission, the event is free, but registration is required as seating is limited. Attendees can register at eventbrite.com.

According to the event description, the forum will focus on how to prevent and respond to hate crimes that target religious institutions.

“This three-hour program is in response to a series of violent acts against houses of worship in multiple communities across the United States and is designed to increase the security of local religious centers,” said organizers. “Upon request, the United States Department of Justice Community Relations Service (CSR) convenes subject matter experts to provide an overview of hate crime laws, statistics and case studies, and physical security.”

The event is also intended to facilitate conversation and improve partnerships between law enforcement and faith communities.

Speakers will include individuals from the FBI, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana, Bartholomew County Emergency Management, the Columbus Police Department and local interfaith leaders.