Don’t be silent! Hate crime or hate speech—report here to be heard

This week’s edition of The Voice/Black Voice News includes reports on two recent “hate” related incidents in the inland region. When it comes to hate crimes, history has shown us again and again: “Silence equals death.”

The Voice/Black Voice News is fully committed to tackling the uneven documentation of hate crimes and hate speech by partnering with New America Media (http://newamericamedia.org/), a leader in promoting the work of ethnic media organizations.

New America Media’s Documenting Hate Project is spearheaded by the not-for-profit news outlet ProPublica (www.propublica.org/). Despite tracking efforts by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), according to ProPublica, “. . .  there’s no reliable data on the nature or prevalence of the violence.”

There has been an alarming increase in reports of hate incidents nationwide since the 2016 election. Such reports range from vandalism and hate-fueled graffiti (as experienced in San Jacinto last week), to physical attacks and shootings.

Currently, there is heightened fear and anxiety in immigrant and minority communities, fueled in part by 2016 campaign rhetoric, in addition to some statements and policies from the current administration. Despite fear, it is vital to have a course of action when such incidents occur.

The number of hate related incidents reported in 2016 was unprecedented. SPLC noted such crimes increased by three percent over 2015, to a total of 917. The organization’s annual hate map (www.splcenter.org/hate-map) lists groups and organizations that target people based on race, religion, or sexual orientation. Also, according to SPLC, in 2016, the nation experienced its second straight year over year increase in the number of hate groups.

California lead the nation in hate crimes in 2016, with 79 hate-related organizations spread across the state. Sadly, nearly half of the hate groups in California are local, with 35 between Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

The Documenting Hate Project has created an online form to allow witnesses or victims to come forward and report their experiences. Reports will be verified before entering a national database that will be made available, with privacy restrictions, to newsrooms and civil rights organizations across the country. The form is not a report to law enforcement or any government agency. Ease of access to the form will remain available online at www.theievoice.com and www.blackvoicenews.com. To learn more about the Documenting Hate Project visit https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/hatecrimes.

Feature photo: New America Media