The City of Eugene released its sixth annual Hate and Bias Crime report this weekend. It showed a near-70 percent increase in reported incidents. KLCC’s Brian Bull shares responses from representatives of the two most targeted communities.
In 2017, there were 139 hate and bias crimes reported in the city, compared to 82 the year before. Of the 31 cases targeting race, 25 involved African-Americans.
Eric Richardson is President of the Eugene-Springfield NAACP. He says part of the increase may be due to outreach efforts from his organization, to get people more active in reporting hate crimes. Still….
“We’re gonna continue our work, understanding that we’ve got a long way to go to really level the playing field and get people’s hearts and minds on board with multiculturalism and celebrating diversity,” Richardson tells KLCC.
On the basis of religion, the Jewish community was targeted in 15 out of 19 reported crimes.
Margot Helphand of the Jewish Federation of Lane County says this mirrors the Anti-Defamation League’s recent finding that anti-Semiticism in the U.S. increased 57 percent from last year.
“It’s hard for people sometimes to grasp the impact of a swastika on a bench near a school or synagogue," says Helphand. "Not just the fact that we have people in our community who lived through the Holocaust, but we understand our history.”
Both Helphand and Richardson says the increasingly abrasive political climate across the U.S. has emboldened people who’d normally stay quiet or in the shadows.
Eugene Police and the City’s Human Rights Commission are resources for anyone who feels targeted due to their race, ethnicity, faith, or gender identity.
Copyright 2018, KLCC.