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Oregon reports of hate crimes, bias incidents on the rise, according to third annual statewide report

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SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum on Friday received the third annual report from the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission on data from 2021 and said they paint a "discouraging' picture of increasing hate crimes and bias incidents.

The Oregon DOJ Bias Response Hotline received the most reports in its history, with 1,683 reports made to the Hotline in 2021. Of these reports, 59% were classified as bias incidents, while 28% were classified as bias crimes. Overall reporting to the DOJ Hotline was up 53% from 2020.

Following national trends, most reports to the Hotline continue to involve race-based targeting, primarily of Black and African American people (500 reports, or 30% of all reports). Reports of anti-Asian incidents increased by almost 200%, and reports of anti-Asian bias crimes increased by 300%.  The report also reflects that bias crimes and incidents have increased as extremist groups and other negative rhetoric toward minority communities has become more mainstream.

“I am very pleased we have been able to step up our civil rights outreach over these past two years including adding hotline advocates and expanding the reach, accessibility, and language availability of our Hate and Bias Hotline,” said Rosenblum. “While these numbers seem so discouraging, they also remind us of the importance of continuing our work supporting victims and survivors of hate and bias.”

In 2019, following the recommendations of the Attorney General’s Task Force on Hate Crimes, the Oregon legislature updated Oregon’s hate and bias crimes laws for the first time in over 20 years and established a new requirement for a victim service hotline housed within the Oregon DOJ.

The statewide Bias Response Hotline, which is staffed by trained advocates, launched in January 2020. A victim or witness of a bias incident or a hate crime can call the Hotline to report an incident, connect with trained staff, apply for emergency financial assistance, or receive a referral to community services or law enforcement.

This year’s report also showed that incidents targeting gender identity increased by 190%, religion (primarily anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim conduct) increased by 175%, disability increased by 220%, and sexual orientation increased by 148%. Bias incidents in schools also increased by 336%. Based on the data, reports to the Hotline spiked in January 2021 after the insurrection at the Capitol, in March and early April following the murders of six Asian women in Atlanta, in August with the return to school, and again in December.

The CJC’s report is statutorily required to be delivered to the Oregon legislature and the Attorney General by July 1 of each year. The data used for the report came from Oregon DOJ’s Bias Response Hotline, the Oregon State Police, three district attorneys’ offices, the Law Enforcement Data System and Oregon eCourt data system.

Key findings in the 2021 report:

  • Reports to the Hotline increased by 53% between 2020 and 2021, from 1,101 to 1,683.
  • Anti-Asian incidents increased by almost 200% overall, and anti-Asian bias crimes increased by 300%.
  • Bias incidents in schools increased by over 300%, from 36 to 157 reports.
  • There was a 300% increase in bias incidents targeting Hotline advocates between 2020 and 2021.
  • Black/African American and Asian individuals were the most common victims of reported bias incidents (25% and 12%, respectively) and hate crimes (34% and 12%, respectively).
  • The Hotline experienced a 650% increase in referrals from community partner agencies between 2020 and 2021 (22 vs. 165), reflective of ongoing outreach efforts and trust building by the Hotline.
  • Statewide data from LEDS indicate that in 2021 there were 117 arrests with a charge of Bias Crime in the First Degree (ORS 166.165) or Bias Crime in the Second Degree (ORS 166.155) in Oregon, a 50% increase from 2020.
  • Prosecution data for adult defendants were collected from three district attorneys’ offices – Multnomah, Lane, and Benton Counties for 2021. Those counties had 66 bias crimes referred for consideration of criminal prosecution by law enforcement agencies (LEAs). Of those, 54 were filed as bias crimes, and 19 have been indicted as Bias Crime in the First Degree felonies.
  • Statewide data shows that in 2021, there were 130 cases that included a charge filed of Bias Crime in the First Degree (ORS 166.165) or Bias Crime in the Second Degree (ORS 166.155). Of those, 47 were disposed – 20 resulting in a conviction for a bias crime, 11 resulting in all charges being dismissed, 14 resulting in conviction for another charge, one resulting in deferral, and one resulting in dismissal.

Read the full report. The Executive Summary is also available in EnglishSpanishSimplified ChineseKoreanVietnameseSomali, and Arabic. The 2021 report can also be found here.

Hotline Contact Information:

Anyone can report a bias incident or a hate crime at www.StandAgainstHate.Oregon.Gov (available in nine languages) or by calling Oregon DOJ’s Bias Response Hotline at 1-844-924-BIAS (2427). The Hotline accepts all Relay calls and has access to interpretation in over 240+ languages.  Bi- and multi-lingual Hotline Advocates are available Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, with an afterhours voicemail system.

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

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