"Bullying and hate is epidemic in the world today," she said to about 150 attendees. "You are not insular in this world. Your responsibility is to care for one another."
The conference, sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the U.S. Department of Justice, dealt with what constitutes a hate crime, strategies for preventing and addressing hate crimes, and promoting communication and cooperation.
"We are in a new era of hate," said the ADL's Nancy Baron-Baer. "Hate crimes don't affect just one person - they affect the entire community of people who may be like them."
The Justice Department prosecutes more than 100 criminal civil-rights cases each year, which U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said shows that some people still don't believe that people should be treated equally.
"This is not acceptable, and we as members of law enforcement and the community at large need to make a vigilant effort to ensure that the rights of all are protected," Memeger said.
In 2009, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. Byrd was murdered by three white men because he was black.
The legislation lets the federal government help investigate and prosecute hate crimes, expanding the 1969 hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's gender identity, sexual orientation and disability.
Contact Andrew Eiser at 215-854-2513 or email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @andrew_eiser.