MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) – On Tuesday morning, a forum was held at the Monongalia County Center to focus and learn about the enforcement of civil rights and what to do if you see them.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia said it held the event for one main reason.
“The main reason we’re having it is to raise awareness about civil rights that all West Virginians possess,” U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of WV William Ihlenfeld said. “Many people don’t fully understand all of their civil rights and so the idea here is to raise awareness whether it’s related to the Fair Housing Act, the American Disabilities Act, hate crimes or any other number civil rights you may possess so that people can understand what their rights are and understand what to do if their rights are violated.”
If violations come up, Ihlenfeld said he needs the public’s help to contact his office.
“We can’t be successful with this initiative unless we have the public’s support, we need the public to call us, we need the public to send us emails or to file forms on our website to let us know about the violations that they’re observing,” Ihlenfeld said. “We have individuals here today who work for different social services organizations and they represent large numbers of clients who might have issues with civil rights and by having them here to learn more about the enforcement efforts under with the U.S Attorney’s Office, they’ll have the opportunity to advocate on behalf of the people that they represent and that will just allow us to do our job even more.”
If you see a violation of civil rights, emails can be sent to USAWVN.Report@usdoj.gov. Ihlenfeld’s office can be reached at (304) 234-0100.
Ihlenfeld was joined by multiple experts from the FBI and his own office to speak on different civil rights topics.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jarod J. Douglas spoke on identifying, reporting and preventing hate crimes. FBI Supervisory Special Agent Timothy Swanson gave an overview of the FBI Civil Rights Program. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Prezioso spoke on the Fair Housing Act and False Claims Act. Lastly, Assistant U.S. Attorney Maximillian F. Nogay discussed spotting potential disability rights violations.
“We have experts today in hate crimes, the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act and we have an expert from the FBI who oversees their civil rights enforcement unit out of Pittsburgh, who’s really an expert in all of the different civil rights topics that are relevant to today’s discussion, so we have a lot of really bright people,” Ihlenfeld said.
Attendance to the event was free. Around 40 people were in attendance.