Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crime

Fighting hate by networking resources

How We Respond to Hate — August 27, 2017

How We Respond to Hate

August 26, 2017

On August 12, the Coalition Against Hate Crime, with the assistance  of the Department of Justice – Community Relations Service, held a free forum, entitled How We Respond to Hate. The forum, hosted at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, had a capacity audience. The original motive for the forum was to help the city heal and respond to the May 26 Max train attack, but the events occurring in Charlottesville, Virginia that weekend were on everyone’s mind. Much networking was done and there was good coverage from the local media:

Portland leaders discuss hate crimes

The forum was made possible thanks to a generous grant from Emily’s Fund and with help from the Genocide Studies Project at Portland State. Emily’s Fund also made available “HATE NOT IN OUR TOWN” yard signs that participants took home. The day was built on three important panels, with the participation of committed community leaders.

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Welcome and Introduction 12:30 – 12:45 pm:

Randy Blazak, Coalition Against Hate Crime

Law Panel

Law and Law Enforcement Panel: 12:50 – 1:45 pm

Responses to hate from local and federal law enforcement agencies

Moderated by Knight Sor, DOJ/Community Relations Service

Caryn Ackerman, Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation – Oregon

Hannah Horsley, U.S. Attorney’s Office

Jeff Sharp, Portland Police Bureau Bias Crime Detective

Sheriff Pat Garrett, Washington County

Jeffery Howes, Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office

Community panel

Community Voices Panel 1:50- 2:45 pm

Perspectives from communities that have been the target of hate

Moderated by Harpreet Singh Mokha, DOJ/Community Relations Service

Gurpreet Kaur Singh, representing the Sikh community

Seemab Hussaini and Zakir Khan of CAIR-OR, representing the Muslim community

Steve Wasserstrom, Reed College, representing the Jewish community

Reid Vanderburgh, PFLAG, representing the LGBTQ community

Resource Panel

Resource Panel 2:50 – 3:45 pm

Preventing and responding to hate

Moderated by Amanda Byron from Portland State’s Conflict Resolution Department

Hillary Bernstein, Anti-Defamation League

Rachel Cunliffe Portland State Conflict Resolution

Shweta Moorthy, Portland United Against Hate

Chase Jones, Department of Homeland Security

Harleen  Kaur, Sikh Coalition

Wrap Up and Networking 3:45 – 4:00 pm

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Hate continues to be a problem in our state. On August 20th, as motorists from around the region drove north on Interstate 5 to view the solar eclipse, many were greeted by banners hung by neo-Nazis from bridges in the Eugene-Albany area. Our rapid response team (i. e., Jeff Gottfried) delivered nearly 200 yard signs to churches, temples, and synagogues in the area, letting neighbors know that hate has no place in Lane County.

As we try to make sense of the events in Charlottesville (Read Randy Blazak response to the situation here: Charlottesville: America’s fork in the road), and our president’s mixed messages about racism, we redouble our efforts around this issue. We are working on a plan to better distribute the “HATE NOT IN OUR TOWN” signs to communities across the state. We are also partnering with the Portland Urban League to build towards a 2018 event to mark the 30th anniversary of the murder of Mulugeta Seraw by racist skinheads in Southeast Portland. We encourage you to be a part of our efforts.

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In the wake of Trump-related hate crimes and incidents in Oregon — November 20, 2016

In the wake of Trump-related hate crimes and incidents in Oregon

November 19, 2016

The media has been full of dramatic stories of hate crimes following the election of Donald Trump. There have also been numerous hate incidents reported, including in Oregon schools. What we do know is the number of hate crimes nationwide increased last year by 7 percent (and anti-Muslim crimes increased by 67%), according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.

What we don’t know for 100% certain is that these crimes are a result of the rhetoric, campaign, or election of Donald Trump. There may be other factors leading to the increase or more people just might be reporting hate crimes to authorities.

BUT we do know, at least anecdotally, that many of these crimes and incidents have been committed by Trump supporters or people using Trump-related slogans, like “Build a wall” and “Make America great again.” This includes a racial assault of a woman in Hillsboro by men naming Trump and racist graffiti at Reed College referencing Trump. (below)

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On Friday, I appeared on OPB’s Think Out Loud to discuss the current climate and how to best respond to these tensions that are likely to follow us past Inauguration Day. I want to make two important points.

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First and foremost, people need to feel safe in their communities. A wave of fear has struck numerous minority communities this fall. This includes immigrants, Muslims, women, Latinx residents, and sexual minority groups. It important for us to defend our fellow citizens from harassment and attack, even if we are not members of those groups. The CAHC has long taken a “Not in our town” approach to hate crimes, where we stand, visibly and vocally, with those who are the targets of hate and against the agents of hate. Now is the time to be mindful of our neighbors who may feel fearful and vulnerable in this current divided climate.

Secondly, those who are the agents of hatred, including racism, sexism, Islamophobia and other bigotries, are often victims of ignorance and misinformation. This is something that can be solved with outreach, education, and calm conversation. America is at a crossroads. Will it become Trump supporters versus the rest of the country or will we use this crisis as a moment to come together? Hating the hater does not bring us forward, but helping the hater might.

As Oregon moves forward into the “Trump years,” the role of the Coalition Against Hate Crimes may be more important than ever. The CAHC has been active since 1997 but for the last two years we have existed primarily as a Facebook page and an email contact list. I would like to see the CAHC become again a more public presence in our state and work to make sure all the members of our many communities feel safe and heard. I encourage your suggestions for next steps.

Dr. Randy Blazak, CAHC chair