Don’t be silent! Hate crime or hate speech–report here and be heard

When it comes to hate crimes, history has shown us again and again that, “Silence equals death.” When the California Department of Justice released the 2016 edition of Hate Crime in California last week, the data were concerning.

Hate crime events increased 11.2 percent from 837 in 2015 to 931 in 2016. The increases were experienced in all categories. In other words, not only did the number of hate crime events increase, the number of offenses, victims and suspects increased as well.

Hate crime events involving a racial bias increased 21.3 percent from 428 in 2015 to 519 in 2016, According to the report, anti-Black or African American bias events went from 231 in 2015 to 251 in 2016, an increase of 8.7 percent; anti-white bias events went from 34 in 2015 to 56 in 2016; and anti-multiple races bias events went from 17 in 2015 to 34 in 2016.

A significant area of concern involved the increase in hate crime offenses related to sexual orientation bias. There was a 10.1 percent increase from 188 in 2015 to 207 in 2016.

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 being 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 around the country 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 within immigrant and minority communities across the country fueled in part by 2016 campaign rhetoric, in addition to some of the statements and policies from the current administration. Even as the fear exists, it is vital to know the course of action when such incidents happen to you or someone you love.

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 the organization, in 2016, the nation experienced its second straight year over year increase in the number of hate groups.

California lead the nation in 2016, with 79 hate-related organizations spread across the state. Sadly, nearly half of the hate groups identified 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.

Learn more about Documenting Hate at https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/hatecrimes. See the 2016 Hate Crime in California report at https://openjustice.doj.ca.gov/downloads/pdfs/hc16.pdf.

Feature photo: New America Media

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