FBI’s “Stop the Hate” Campaign Urges Pittsburgher Residents to Report Hate Crimes
Hate crimes are underreported, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and its new campaign, “Stop the Hate,” was created to urge victims to report incidents to law enforcement.
The campaign will include a variety of public awareness initiatives in Pittsburgh and other cities, including advertisements on buses and social media, and in regional newspapers, such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tribune-Review and Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.
âThis has always been a concern,â FBI Special Surveillance Agent Tim Swanson told The Chronicle, âbut in light of what’s going on in society, the FBI has decided to focus on the crimes. hate and civil rights violations, making it a top national threat for the coming year.
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Last year, more than 10,000 people reported being victims of hate crime, according to the FBI’s annual report on hate crime statistics, released last month. More than 7,700 criminal hate crimes were reported to the FBI in 2020, which is an increase of about 450 incidents from 2019, according to CNN. And although the number of incidents has increased, there are fewer agencies reporting hate crimes to the FBI than in previous years.
The FBI defines hate crimes as “crimes motivated by biases based on race, gender and gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity.”
While there are federal hate crime laws, not all states have hate crime laws, which could explain why they are underreported nationally, Swanson said.
In Pennsylvania, hate crimes are referred to as âethnic bullyingâ and are defined under Title 18, Section 2710 of the Commonwealth Crimes Code as acts âmotivated by ill will or hatredâ towards ârace, color, color, and nationalityâ. religion or national origin of a victim or group. . “
Swanson said the Pennsylvania law “is narrow in scope, which doesn’t cover a lot of different things than some federal civil rights laws do.”
Because of the difference between state and federal laws, Swanson said it was important for hate crimes to be reported not only to local police departments, but to the FBI.
âIf we don’t know something has happened, it is difficult for us to act,â he said. âOur path follows applicable laws and statutes, so if people don’t tell us things are going on, it’s hard for us to get involved, hard for us to build community trust, and hard for us to do. close the victims. â
In Pittsburgh, there is a simple and organized system for members of the Jewish community to report hate crimes through the Jewish Community of Greater Pittsburgh Jewish Community Security Service, Swanson said.
Shawn Brokos, director of security for the Pittsburgh Jewish community, said she appreciates community members reporting incidents to her, whether or not they meet the legal definition of a hate crime.
âThe reports are so important,â she said.
Brokos and Swanson both said they don’t expect community members to know whether an incident technically constitutes a hate crime or not – they just want people to report instances of violence, harassment or intimidation.
âThere are nuances,â Swanson explained. âThere was a stab at a McDonald’s in downtown Pittsburgh over the summer. The perpetrator was an African American, the victim was a 12 year old white man. Everyone said it was a hate crime. This does not make it a hate crime, however, simply because the victim and the perpetrator are of different races. We spent a lot of time watching it and seeing if anything was said before, what was said after, what the video was showing. We are really getting pretty granular. In this case, it was just an assault.
Pittsburgh was the site of the most violent attack on Jews in US history, when a gunman murdered 11 worshipers in the Tree of Life building on October 27, 2018. Brokos said he There is no doubt that the Jewish community continues to be the most targeted. religious group.
âThis year, 58% of threats in the religious category were directed against the Jewish community,â Brokos said. âLast year that number was 63%, so it’s dropped a bit, but that doesn’t reassure me at all because Jews continue to be the most targeted religion.
In fact, Brokos noted, 9% of all hate crimes nationwide were directed against the Jewish community.
As a result, she said, it is important that every incident is reported.
âWe follow every incident because it’s just so important,â she said. âThere are a handful of crimes that constitute hate crime; Regardless, this is still essential information to help protect our community.
Swanson urged victims and witnesses to report anything that may be a hate crime to the National Threat Operations Center at 1-800-CALL-FBI or tips.fbi.gov. Tips can be left anonymously.
âFrom my perspective,â Brokos said, âthe takeaway is that the Jewish community continues to be the most targeted faith community. We need a much better and more robust reporting system. We are doing a great job in the Jewish community, but we need more awareness. ” PJC
David Rullo can be contacted at [email protected]