Oregon Department of Justice reports rise in bias and hate crimes

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – According to the Oregon Department of Justice, bias crimes are on the rise in the state, with reports of bias and hate crimes up 33% from observed numbers around the same time last year.

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said there have already been 13 bias crimes committed in 2022, but that does not include ongoing recent cases.

In less than 20 days – from April 24 to May 11, at least seven biased criminal incidents were reported in Portland alone – some locations were targeted more than once and by different suspects.

Randall Blazak, president of the Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crimes, says he’s been tracking a steady increase in incidents of bias since the pandemic began.

Blazak says the recent spike is part of a national trend sparked by online conspiracies — which suggest minorities are taking advantage of white Americans’ economic opportunities.

“The community feels vulnerable, traumatized and feels like even in Portland, Oregon you have to watch your back because there are hatemongers among us,” Blazak said.

Blazak noted that the recent spike is part of a nationwide trend sparked by online conspiracies — which suggest minorities are taking advantage of white Americans’ economic opportunities.

“Because they had it, they feel entitled to have it, which is an important word, and then it’s taken away from them. There’s this emotional response that sends some of these white men into the world of hate because they have someone 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 just add up. to climb.

“We had 1,683 reports last year right now, to date we have 999 reports, and that will definitely take us beyond the 683 if the trend continues as it has over the past two years,” the Oregon Department of Justice said. said Fay Stetz-Waters, director of social justice.

Jarl Rockhill was charged with a felony bias on Wednesday after police said evidence found at his home linked him to Nazi vandalism outside the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO).

It comes after former freelance journalist Michael Bivins was charged with five counts of bias felony for allegedly targeting three places of worship and a black-owned restaurant, Everybody Eats PDX, in Portland.

In a statement, a representative from Everybody Eats PDX said, “Being targeted because of race is very disheartening. The recent increase in bias crimes is frightening, not just for black-owned businesses, but for 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 prosecutor’s office nor the police granted KOIN 6 News’ request for an interview about the recent spike in bias crimes.

To report a bias crime, the Non-Emergency Bias Response Hotline can be contacted at 1-844-924-2427 or by filing an Oregon DOJ online report.

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