Hate Crimes Forum sees hate and biased behavior increase for 5th consecutive year

Hate Free zone poster on July 14th, 2017. in the Human Rights & Neighborhood Involvement in Eugene, Ore. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - A Hate Crimes Forum was held in Eugene on Saturday in order to give the community a chance to meet with officials and learn how to respond to hate and bias incidents in their lives.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Eugene City Manager's Office issued a report on both criminal and non-criminal hate and biased behavior.

According to the report, both the number of hate and bias incidents reported, and those which were indeed crimes, has increased.

"We collect all the information in our office," said Katie Babits, a Human Rights and Equity Analyst. "We do that because we want to create a whole picture of all the activity that's happening in Eugene. Hate and bias activity, whether it is a crime or not a crime, it still impacts a lot of our community members."

Babits says that the Downtown and West University neighborhood experienced the highest amount of hate and bias crimes, and vandalism replaced intimidation as the most common hate crime charge.

"We want people to know that things are being done on the local level to address the impact of those crimes and also show people what their resources are and how they can access those resources," said Babits.

Chairman of Oregon Against Hate Crime, Randy Blazak, says while Eugene's hate crime numbers look larger than the rest of the state, it's because of their aggressive approach to track the data.

"It's hard to do a comparison from place to place," said Blazak. "Because you have smaller sheriff departments and towns where they don't really actively seek out the data."

"If it comes across their radar, they'll report it, but when you have an aggressive strategy to go after that data, it inflates the numbers and it looks like there's more hate happening."

Blazak says the real issue is that people not only feel safe in their communities, but are safe in their communities, and know that officials have their backs.

"We take these issues very seriously," said Blazak. "Hate crimes are acts of terrorism; they're meant to impact wide groups of people, not just the immediate victims."

According to the Hate and Bias crime report, race continues to be the leading motivating factor in hate and bias crimes reported in Eugene. Of the 31 race-related hate crimes in 2017, 25 were committed against African-Americans.

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