Reports of hate crimes — criminal offenses against people based on their religion, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation — doubled in Oregon in the past five years.
The latest Hate Crime Report shows 290 bias incidents in Oregon in 2022 that impacted 428 individuals.
“Roughly about 60% of our reported hate crimes tend to be race-based biases. About 10% of them tend to be religious-based hate crimes. Those crimes tend to target those of the Jewish faith,” said Ryhs Williams, senior supervisory resident agent for the Portland division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The FBI says it serves to safeguard against hate and violence, but can only do so if it knows about threats or violent actions against individuals or property. To that end, the agency has launched an awareness campaign that encourages the public to report hate crimes.
There are a number of federal laws that give the FBI the ability to investigate hate crimes. Those laws generally require some kind of criminal act AND a finding that the person committing the act did so because he/she was motivated by bias. The criminal act can include offenses such as murder, assault, arson, and it generally requires the use or threat of force or violence. For an incident to qualify as a federal hate crime, the subject(s) must have acted wholly or in part based on the victim’s actual or perceived status. This is generally consistent with state law. Under federal law, bias motivators include:
- National origin
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientation
Anyone who has information about or believes they are a victim of a federal hate crime should contact the FBI by phone at 1-800-CALL-FBI or online at tips.fbi.gov.
“It’s a little like 911. You’ll get an individual who will answer and talk with you and collect the information from you on this reported hate crime. They’ll get contact information from you, things of that nature, so that an FBI agent can later on follow up with you,” Williams said.
The campaign launched November 6. It is specifically targeted at holiday travelers with billboards along Interstate 5 in Medford, Eugene and Corvallis, and digital displays in the Portland International Airport.