Hate crimes spike in 2017

Diana Baker // The Torch

Hate crimes in the Eugene area have nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017, according to the newly released Hate and Bias Report from the Human Rights and Neighborhood Involvement organization.

According to the report, “of the 87 crimes reported in 2017, arrests were made in 20 cases. Of the charges cleared by arrest, eight were motivated by race, seven by either sexual orientation or gender identity, three by ethnicity and two by religion, four cases remain open, one was unfounded, one was declared exceptional and 61 were suspended or inactive with no more leads.”

The report shows that Eugene is experiencing the increase of hate crimes in all areas of the city and this affected most neighborhoods at least once in 2017. However, there are certain areas that are consistent hotbeds for the rising hate activity.

“We traditionally see trends in the downtown area and towards the West University area,” Katie Babits, a Human Rights and Equity Analyst at HRNI, said.

Even though there is no exact reason why these areas are experiencing the most hate crimes, there is speculation behind the cause.

“Higher percentages of population is one theory and the other is downtown is a more commercialized area that attracts more people,” Babits said.

Many different demographics are targets, but some are being victimized more than others. According to the report, hate activity based on religion has more than doubled, most acts being against Jewish communities. Race has been a constant motivator for hate crimes and continues to grow.

“We see the highest number of hate crimes happen to people of color,” Babits said. “Race is a motivator in 36 percent of hate crimes and 29 percent of crimes that are categorized as hate affected the African American community.”

Along with the reported hate crimes, there were an additional 65 reported hate crime acts using vandalism. The most frequent victims were Jewish or African American communities, and 37 of these incidents were classified as criminal acts of hate, according to the HRNI report.

The HRNI offers resources to victims of hate crimes in Eugene. Community organizations like National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Centro Latino Americano, Latinx Alliance and the Lane County Victims Services are equipped to help victims of hate crimes recover and heal from their experience.

“Our program primarily has two functions,” Babits explained. “We compile data into an annual report and we connect victims to resources.”

Many Eugene agencies are working toward raising awareness about the rising hate activity. In particular, the Community Alliance of Lane County is running the Stop Hate campaign to create a comfortable environment for the community and for the nearby campuses.

“Having LCC, the U of O and other colleges in the area, we are going to have folks who are more outraged by hate and want to take action to stop it,” said Michael Carrigan, senior program staffer at Community Alliance of Lane County.

The CALC work with the community to spread the Stop Hate campaign, especially in areas affected by hate activity.

“We track hate activity throughout Lane County and when it happens we respond with our Stop Hate campaign,” explains Carrigan. “The Stop Hate campaign organizes rallies, puts up hate free zone flyers, and goes door to door in residential areas that affected by hate activity. We provide them with contact information for us, the police and government agencies that challenge hate activity in the community.”

CALC can be reached through the contact information on their website or by attended various events. The community still continues to work toward a hate free environment for all residents to be in.