Since the 2016 election there has been an alarming increase in reports of hate incidents around the country. Reports range from vandalism and hate-fueled graffiti to physical attacks and shootings.
The reports come amid heightened fear and anxiety within immigrant and minority communities, fueled by the rhetoric of the campaign, and by statements and policies from the current administration.
Experts note such fear helps to tamp down reporting of hate crimes, which are already vastly underreported.
Ethnic media have long been attuned to such incidents, particularly when members of their own communities are the victims. New America Media (NAM) has been working with their ethnic media partners to help expand visibility of their reporting on hate crimes and hate-related incidents. You can read the coverage at newamericamedia.org.
NAM has also worked to help inform ethnic media on how to report and cover hate-related incidents.
But when it comes to accurately documenting hate, there is in fact no national system in place. The FBI maintains its Uniform Crime Reporting Program which is slow to update and relies on reports from law enforcement agencies that may or – as is often the case – may not report such crimes.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (splc.org), meanwhile, has operated its own database, though verification of claims by victims, witnesses and the media has been an issue, with some claims having been proven false.
Which is why NAM has joined a national collaborative of media, civil rights groups and tech companies that is working to accurately track and verify reports of hate crimes and incidents of bias or harassment.
The Documenting Hate Project is spearheaded by the not-for-profit news outlet ProPublica, which has created a form to allow witnesses or victims to come forward and report their experience (https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/hatecrimes-form). Reports will be verified before entering a national database that will be made available, with privacy restrictions, to newsrooms and civil rights organizations across the country. The form is not a report to law enforcement or any government agency.
New America Media