Hate crimes in the Pacific Northwest region are reported to continue to rise. As a result, the city councilors are hoping to increase the penalties for violators which might help curb the trend.
Hate Crimes Uptick Revealed in a Report
Revealing a 12% rise in hate crimes, the preliminary numbers from the 2020 Hate and Bias Report reflect this disturbing trend. It was according to a presentation from Fabio Andrade. Andrade is a Human Rights and Equity Analyst with the Pacific Northwest region.
Black and African American People are Targets of Hate
Andrade said crimes against Black and African American people, during a work session Monday, make up about half of all incidents despite the fact that they do account for just two percent of the population in Eugene, Oregon.
Crimes Punishment is More Jail time and Increasing Fine Violations
The councilors have voted to move forward with plans, during the work session, to increase the maximum fine for second-degree bias crimes. The amount would go up from $2,500 to $6,250. Also, violators can also face up to a year in jail. Therefore, the increased fines will be the topic of future public hearings. Then subject to an eventual vote by the city council, however, no exact date is giving.
The stiffer fines are a good thing, according to Eric Richardson. He is the executive director of the Eugene Springfield NAACP. Thus it is can help make clear when free speech becomes hate speech.
“In fact, we support that. Then, we can look forward to our city government and state and county government really backing up the idea. Racism is a public health crisis,” Richardson said.
Moreover, the councilors also voted to move forward with a city code amendment to add a crime of intimidation by the display of a noose. This would be to align, in fact, with a state law that goes into effect in January 2022. Many of the bias crimes are reporting in neighbors near Downtown Eugene as well as near high schools. This information is according to the city.