With the election of Donald Trump, we’re hearing and seeing numerous reports of white nationalist rhetoric and a rise in hate crimes. It’s critically important that incidents are reported through local and state agencies. Below are some resources if you are the victim of a hate crime or if you witness a hate crime.
What is a hate crime? Under Oregon Law, a hate crime is offensive physical contact, threatening or inflicting physical injury, threatening or causing property damage towards a person or persons because perception of their race, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity or national origin. These also include the desecration of places of worship or religious objects, and may also include a family member, for instance threats against a family member who comes out as LGBTQ.
When is bias a crime? Just because someone uses some derogatory or defaming language doesn’t mean that language is unlawful. The language may be protected by the first amendment. Bias may be criminal when it is targeted at a member of a protected class, such as race, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity or national origin, and that person feels they’ve been victimized through intimidation. During these moments, law enforcement may investigate to determine whether there is probable cause for bias in the crime.
What do I do if I witness or become a victim of a hate crime? Courtesy: Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crime.
- Report the emergency to law enforcement by calling 9-1-1. Many cities have dedicated detectives who will investigate the case. The city of Portland, for instance, has a division for assaults and bias crimes here.
- Hate crimes can also be anonymously reported to the Oregon Department of Justice, however using their form is not a substitute for filing a police report with federal, state and local law enforcement here.
- Civil rights offenses should be reported to one of the three Oregon U.S. Attorney’s offices. Portland (503) 727-1000, Eugene (541) 465-6771 or Medford (541) 776-3564.
- Criminal and suspicious behavior of terroristic, bias-motivated nature or hate crimes that involve interstate threats, which also include crimes over the internet, should be reported to the Portland Office of the FBI at (503) 224-4181 or email@example.com. The Federal Bureau of Investigation collects hate crime data, including on LGBTQ persons, available here.
- The Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crime also collects hate crime incidents, even if you have not reported them to authorities, and they keep reports confidential. They can also connect people to available resources.
What if I suspect law enforcement of profiling or bias?
- The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon also has its own mobile justice app designed to document police interactions and track them.
- In 2015, the state of Oregon approved a statewide governor appointed committee called the Law Enforcement Contacts and Policy and Data Review Committee (LECC), which assists Oregon law enforcement with data collection and analysis to improve community relations, training and make policy recommendations. People can make profiling complaints to the LECC.
Additional Resources for Reporting Civil Rights Violations & Discrimination
What about bullying and harassment in schools? With the passage of the Oregon Safe Schools Act in 2009, the Oregon Department of Education updated its laws on bullying, harassment and intimidation in public schools. The law includes activities that happen on or near school grounds, at school sponsored events, on school provided transportation or bus stops and instances of cyber bullying.
The Oregon Department of Education lists guidelines for reporting bullying and harassment in schools.
The law requires school districts to adopt policies that prohibit bullying, require employees to report instances of bullying, allow students or volunteers to report it anonymously and create a uniform procedure for how bullying is reported. Each district has its own process for filling a bullying complaint, and these policies are required to be readily available at school offices, school district offices and on the district website if available.
If you’re not satisfied with the school’s response, you can request the district review the actions of the school. There is an appeals process with the Oregon Department of Education. You can also file a complaint.