Home Youngkin executive order directs heightened security against antisemitism, violence
State/National

Youngkin executive order directs heightened security against antisemitism, violence

Rebecca Barnabi
virginia map
(© klenger – stock.adobe.com)

Since Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel on October 7, increased reports of anti-religious bigotry have been made across the United States.

In response, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued Executive Order Six today, which creates an actionable plan to coordinate with educational institutions and law enforcement entities to combat threats of violence against Jewish people and other religious communities.

The executive directive reaffirms Virginia’s commitment to stand against hatred and intolerance, and expands methods to combat hate groups.

“Hatred, intolerance and antisemitism have no place in Virginia. As Governor, the safety and security of all Virginians is my paramount concern. Virginia is the birthplace of the freedom of religion in America, and protecting the community centers and houses of worship of the Jewish people is paramount. But this commitment extends to all religions, including those of the Muslim faith, who are increasingly concerned about backlash,” Youngkin said.

Law enforcement in Virginia is instructed by Youngkin to increase information exchange and resource coordination on potential antisemitic acts through a specialized situation room and expedite grants to organizations facing religious or ethnicity-based persecution. The order empowers the Virginia Fusion Center at the Department of State Police to operate at a heightened state to quickly identify threats against houses of worship and faith-based communities.

Virginia’s colleges and universities are asked to submit updated comprehensive safety plans to the Center for School and Campus Safety. The order also increases collaboration between the Department of Education and K-12 schools and institutions of higher education on safety measures for students. All school divisions are instructed to promote awareness of resources promoting the safety of their students, especially Jewish students, during this time of unrest globally.

On his first day as governor, Youngkin signed Executive Order Number 8 establishing the Commission to Combat Antisemitism, which released a report on December 5, 2022. In May 2023, Youngkin signed legislation patroned by Del. Anne Ferrell Tata and Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, which formally adopts the Working Definition of Antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) on May 26, 2016.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.