PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon saw a 125% increase in reported hate crimes between 2013 and 2017, according to an analysis from SafeHome.org. That makes Oregon the state with the 6th largest increase in the United States.
The study looks at FBI data, sourced from police agencies in 2017, the most recent report year. A total of 8,437 hate crimes were reported, targeting 8,828 victims.
Out of all of the cities included in the data, Eugene had the largest increase in reported hate crimes, up 380% from 2013. In fact, out of Oregon’s 146 reported bias crimes in 2017, Eugene accounted for 72.
So has Eugene been infiltrated by hate groups at a rate unseen in the rest of the country? Probably not, according to Randy Blazak, chair of the Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crimes.
“Eugene had this dramatic increase in the numbers. A lot of that is the work of the community getting people to report these crimes when they happen and getting better about actually tracking the data,” Blazak said.
SafeHome itself admits the study is not perfect, writing:
Nonetheless, Blazak says the data is troubling, showing an increase in hate crimes in almost all 50 states.
“I think a lot of this has to do with the political climate,” Blazak said. “And it’s also about the demographic change that we’re having. This country is changing in terms of its complexion … we’re going through a lot of change right now and some people are embracing that change, but there are some people that are pushing back against it. Some people are doing it through normal, political channels, but some people are doing it through threats of violence.”
According to the most recent data, racial animosity motivated nearly 60 percent of all single-bias offenses.
“There’s been a fairly consistent pattern as long as we’ve been tracking this data from the early ’90s that the most common type of hate crimes are racially motivated hate crimes with black victims,” Blazak said. “Second are religiously motivated hate crimes with Jewish people as victims, and third are anti-gay hate crimes with gay male victims.”
According to Blazak, there are several takeaways from the study. One is that Oregon and the country as a whole is getting better at tracking and reporting hate crimes.
“Getting people to report to law enforcement, even if they don’t know if it’s a hate crime or not, that’s really important,” Blazak said.
Ultimately, he hopes people will see the study and “recognize the importance of communities standing together against hate,” he said, adding, “The victims may not look like me, or pray like me, or love like me, but I’m going to stand with them and not the people who have committed these crimes.”