WATCH LIVE: Senate Appropriations Committee holds hearing on DOJ budget with Merrick Garland

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The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the Justice Department budget with Merrick Garland

Watch the hearing in the player above.

The Justice Department is stepping up its enforcement of hate crimes and other bias-related incidents, furthering a promise by Attorney General Merrick Garland to focus on civil rights violations.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, recently sworn in and the first Black woman to hold the position, said the effort has led to indictments in multiple cases over the past six months. But the number of hate crimes has grown: In November, the FBI said they’d reached the highest level in more than a decade.

“Hate crimes are especially pernicious because they harm targeted individuals and the entire community to which the individual belongs,” she said in a statement to The Associated Press. “No community should live in fear because of who they are, where they are from, or what they believe, and it is our goal to make that a reality.”

The statement comes during the first days of Pride Month, a celebration of LGBTQ rights, and as the Justice Department has leveled a series of civil rights charges, including against three white men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, who was Black, in Georgia. It has also opened several investigations into policing practices at departments around the country.

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