More churches, temples, and mosques than ever before are fighting back against hate crimes.
On Tuesday the FBI and Department of Homeland Security taught more than 100 people from houses of worship across the Valley about how to prepare for an active shooter. The FBI reports in 2017 the number of hate crimes went up for the third year in a row. With the prevalence of mass shootings, religious communities are taking action to stay safe.
Eleven people were killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue and 26 people were killed in a Texas church in just the past two years.
“Charleston, you look at Pittsburgh, you look at San Diego, you look at Milwaukee,” listed Birmingham FBI Spokesperson Paul Daymond. “All these things are happening in houses of worship so we wanted to focus on that because those have been historic targets.”
“I’m from the Muslim community and we have been a target and had two, three, four incidents in the past few years,” said Aladin Beshir with the Huntsville and Madison Islamic Centers.
That’s why religious communities are building connections with law enforcement and each other.
“Church or their business, they’re fearful,” said Noell Bishop, who owns Bishop 30 Solutions, an independent security and defense training business. “If they know that they have a security plan and have people there to protect them then they can concentrate on their work and their worship.”
Those at the FBI and DHS workshop will bring what they’ve learned to their congregations and implement change.
“We can have a mock-up if something happens so, like they said in the training, we don’t step over each other,” said Beshir. “If people that can carry guns carry guns. If it’s gonna take guns to protect ourself, according to the law we can.”
With so many houses of worship, law enforcement can be stretched thin. They say congregations must be the eyes and ears for each other to prevent murder.
Around 400 people have been trained this summer in just these FBI and DHS workshops. They’ll be hosting another one this fall.
Learn about InfraGuard, a partnership with the FBI here.