Hate Crimes

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Violent acts are being committed every day around the world, more than what is just being shown on major news outlets like CNN or FOX. Many of these crimes often go unreported, unknown to the public. Here in the U.S., we see only a fraction of what occurs.

Hate crimes are defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as any violent act or crime committed against a person or their property for their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.

These crimes have become a serious offense in a world where we are trying to be more accepting of others and look past our differences. In fact, according to recent FBI reports, hate crimes have increased by 17 percent in 2017 in comparison to 2016, with religion and sexual orientations being the two primary motivators for the crimes committed.

Just about two months ago, on Oct. 31, a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh was the site of a mass shooting where 11 people were killed, the deadliest attack on Jewish people in US history. The gunman, Robert Bowers, had targeted Jewish people online prior to the attack.This was clearly a religiously-motivated hate crime against those of the Jewish faith.

However, reporting hate crimes to the FBI is voluntary, and many go undocumented at any law enforcement agencies. As a result, these findings and statistics cannot be taken at face value. In fact, only around 12.6 percent of the law enforcement agencies mentioned in the FBI report hinted that hate crimes occured in their jurisdictions in 2017.

In response to the increase of crimes being committed, government and law enforcement agencies are taking the necessary steps and precautions to prepare for these situations and ensure the safety of the public.

“More importantly than anything else is the effective conversation and heightened awareness in communities that this is important and that government institutions are prepared to respond effectively to crimes that victimize broadly across our communities,” said Will Johnson, Chief of police in Arlington, TX.

Matthew Whitaker, the acting Attorney General, said this report is a call to action.

“The Department of Justice’s top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes. They are also despicable violations of our core values as Americans.”

Taylor Stokes (12) said they don’t believe that the topic is talked about as much as it should be.

“There needs to be more discussions about hate crimes in our community in order to initiate change,” Taylor said.

Taylor said that hate crimes are an unfortunate part of our current society.

“People don’t deserve to be intentionally hurt by others who don’t agree with their race, sexuality, or religion,” Taylor said. “Whatever the case may be, there is no excuse.”

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