PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – According to the Oregon Department of Justice, bias crimes are on the rise in the state, with bias and hate crime reports up by 33% from numbers seen this time last year.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office said there have already been 13 bias crimes issued in 2022, but that does not include recent pending cases.
In less than 20 days – from April 24 until May 11, there have been at least seven bias crime incidents reported within Portland alone — some locations have targeted more than once and by different suspects.
Randall Blazak, Chair of the Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crimes, says he has been tracking a continued surge in bias incidents since the start of the pandemic.
Blazak says the recent spike is part of a national trend brought on by online conspiracies – which suggest minorities are taking economic opportunities from white Americans.
“The community is feeling vulnerable, feeling traumatized, and feeling like even in progressive Portland, Oregon you have to watch your back because there are hate mongers among us,” Blazak said
Blazak noted the recent spike is part of a national trend brought on by online conspiracies – which suggest minorities are taking economic opportunities from white Americans.
“Because they had it, they feel entitled to it, which is an important word, and then it’s taken away from them. There is this emotional response that sends some of these white men into the world of hate because they’ve got somebody to blame for their downward mobility,” Blazak explained.
The Oregon Department of Justice opened the bias response hotline in 2020, and told KOIN 6 News that year they received 638 reports of bias and hate crimes – and those numbers only continue to climb.
“We had 1,683 reports last year right now as of today we have 999 reports, and this is definitely going to take us beyond the 683 if the trend continues as it has continued over the past two years,” Oregon Department of Justice Civil Rights and Social Justice Director Fay Stetz-Waters said.
Jarl Rockhill was charged with a bias crime on Wednesday after police say evidence found in his home tied him to Nazi vandalism outside the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO).
This comes after former freelance journalist Michael Bivins was charged with five counts of bias crime for allegedly targeting three places of worship and a Black owned restaurant, Everybody Eats PDX, in Portland.
In a statement, a representative for Everybody Eats PDX said “being targeted based upon race is very disheartening. The recent uptick in bias crimes is scary, not only for Black owned businesses but the Black community as a whole. We need city leaders and officials to do more to help and protect the Black community and stop waiting for tragic things to happen.”
Additionally, police are still looking for the man caught on camera drawing terrorist symbols on the IRCO Pacific Islander and Asian Family Center on May 11.
Neither the DA’s office nor police granted KOIN 6 News’ request for an interview on the recent spike in bias crimes.