Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper has joined governors from 10 states in urging Congress to quickly enact an increase in the supplemental appropriation for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP).

This funding would ensure that resources reach communities that need immediate assistance in the wake of increased threats in the Jewish and Muslim communities.

“Many houses of worship in North Carolina rely on the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to protect their congregations, and I encourage Congress to pass more funding for this vital program during this time of increased threats,” Cooper said. “The right to worship freely and without fear is fundamental to our country, and we are doing everything we can to protect that here in North Carolina.”

Letter to Congressional Leaders

Dear Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Speaker Johnson, and Leader Jeffries:

As Governors across the United States and territories, we are grateful for Congress’s continued support for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), including the record $305 million allocated for the program in Fiscal Year 2023. We were also pleased to see a letter of support to the Senate Appropriations Committee from Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Gary C. Peters, Jacky Rosen, and Christopher S. Murphy urging funding the program at $500 million for FY 2024; President Biden himself requesting an additional $200 million for the program above the $305 million for FY 2023 in his supplemental funding request, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer requesting $1 billion in funding for the program just this week. In light of ongoing concerns within our states and territories, we write today to offer our support for swift consideration of a robust supplemental appropriation for the NSGP to ensure resources reach those in our communities who need immediate assistance.

The Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel and escalating conflict have elevated concerns of potential security threats to Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities and houses of worship across the United States and territories. As the war escalates, access to clear and consistent humanitarian aid is needed, and here at home, houses of worship and community centers of all faiths, races, and ethnicities will require greater resources to improve their security. As it is a primary funding source for nonprofits at increased risk of terrorist attack, making more resources available as soon as possible through the NSGP will be a critical step to helping ease the concerns of our shared constituents.

Domestic terrorism and hate crimes targeted at vulnerable communities are at historic highs. In August, a man wielding a swastika-emblazoned rifle killed three Black Americans at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida. In October, an Illinois man killed a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy and injured his mother, and the Justice Department is investigating the killing as a hate crime. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago as well, a man in Indiana was indicted for sending violent, antisemitic threats to four offices of the Anti-Defamation League, and a suspect was arrested in Michigan on suspicion of making a threat toward Palestinian Americans. These are not just anecdotes. The Washington Post reported on October 30 that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is tracking this trend and ramping up proactive communications with community partners. On October 31, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the U.S. Senate that antisemitism in the U.S. is reaching “historic levels,” and urged vigilance.

But that vigilance comes at a cost, and we must ensure our constituencies who are threatened by violence have the robust supports they need to stay safe. We must secure the safety of our homeland, especially at its heart – where people gather to find comfort and identity in their faiths, cultures, and beliefs. We urge you to act swiftly to enact an increase to the NSGP in order to make additional grant funding available as soon as possible.