Community Representatives Respond To City Of Eugene's Latest Hate Crime Statistics

Mar 12, 2018

The City of Eugene released its sixth annual Hate and Bias Crime report this weekend. It showed a near-70 percent increase in reported incidents. KLCC’s Brian Bull shares responses from representatives of the two most targeted communities.

Pro-diversity activists gather at Eugene's Washington-Jefferson Park in February 2017.
Credit David Geltge Sierralupe / Flickr.com

In 2017, there were 139 hate and bias crimes reported in the city, compared to 82 the year before. Of the 31 cases targeting race, 25 involved African-Americans.

Eric Richardson of the Eugene-Springfield NAACP.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Eric Richardson is President of the Eugene-Springfield NAACP.  He says part of the increase may be due to outreach efforts from his organization, to get people more active in reporting hate crimes. Still….

“We’re gonna continue our work, understanding that we’ve got a long way to go to really level the playing field and get people’s hearts and minds on board with multiculturalism and celebrating diversity,” Richardson tells KLCC.

Hate and Bias Crime Density Map, 2017. The red areas denote the highest rate of hate/bias crimes reported in Eugene last year.
Credit Eugene Police Department

On the basis of religion, the Jewish community was targeted in 15 out of 19 reported crimes. 

Margot Helphand of the Jewish Federation of Lane County says this mirrors the Anti-Defamation League’s recent finding that anti-Semiticism in the U.S. increased 57 percent from last year.

“It’s hard for people sometimes to grasp the impact of a swastika on a bench near a school or synagogue," says Helphand. "Not just the fact that we have people in our community who lived through the Holocaust, but we understand our history.”

A swastika drawn or painted onto a handrail at the First United Methodist Church in Eugene, 2017.
Credit Photo submitted by Reverend Adam Briddell.

Both Helphand and Richardson says the increasingly abrasive political climate across the U.S. has emboldened people who’d normally stay quiet or in the shadows.  

Eugene Police and the City’s Human Rights Commission are resources for anyone who feels targeted due to their race, ethnicity, faith, or gender identity.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.