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Community Representatives Respond To City Of Eugene's Latest Hate Crime Statistics

David Geltge Sierralupe

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.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Eric Richardson of the Eugene-Springfield NAACP.

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.

Credit Eugene Police Department
Hate and Bias Crime Density Map, 2017. The red areas denote the highest rate of hate/bias crimes reported in Eugene last year.

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.”

Credit Photo submitted by Reverend Adam Briddell.
A swastika drawn or painted onto a handrail at the First United Methodist Church in Eugene, 2017.

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.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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