City of Eugene reports hate crimes have increased

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

EUGENE, Ore. -- A report released by The City of Eugene, Human Rights and Neighborhood Involvement, says there were 82 hate and bias incidents in 2016.

This marked an increase from last year’s report, which showed 59 hate and bias incidents.

The numbers are not an accurate reflection of how many hate crimes happen in Eugene, according to Jennifer Lleras Van Der Haeghen, the program manager for Human Rights and Neighborhood Involvement.

"People in our community are experiencing hate and bias crime and incidents at levels that I don't think most folks in our community understand."

Multiple hate and bias crimes go under-reported to law enforcement, she said.

“According to the Department of Justice, only 25% and 42% of hate and bias crimes are reported at a federal level,” says Van Der Haeghen.

The City of Eugene and HRNI have partnered with multiple community organizations to be the bridge of trust between the community and law enforcement.

“Families come to us because we are a trusted entity; they come to us and they say, 'I have been discriminated,' or any other issue,” says Juan Carlos Valle, State Director for Oregon League of Latin American Citizens.

Valles, has personally been a victim of hate and bias incidents. He says he hears multiple stories all the time from families being victims of hate and bias incidents.

"Another one is a school, a local school in which kids were being called names. They were shouting the name 'Trump' and asking them for their papers. These kids are US-born citizens,” said Valles.

According to the 2016 report, 54 % of all hate crimes reported to Eugene Police Department were based on race.

“This report only captures data that is collected by the Eugene Police Department, and does not include hate crimes that include the university because the university has their own police department, as does Springfield,” says Van Der Haeghen

The 2016 report divides these incidents into two categories. 44 cases come under the "criminal" category while 38 are considered "non-criminal.” In those cases, the incidents fall under "free speech" or the victims chose not to file a police report.

Human Rights and Neighborhood Involvement is reaching out to the community to urge people to report any type of hate crime to them.

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