Spokane County Human Rights Task Force releases first-ever hate crime report

Reports Of Hate Crimes Are Rising. Here Are How Protections Vary By State
SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images

One of the most pressing issues in America today is the increase in hate crimes — those that are motivated by prejudice against someone's race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, national origin, or other factors. In 2020, there were more than 8,000 hate crimes committed in the U.S., up from just over 7,000 the year before. The greatest percentage of hate crimes were motivated by race, ethnicity, and ancestry, according to the FBI. Stigmatizing rhetoric around the COVID-19 pandemic and the monkeypox outbreak have only fueled the violence.

Legislators have been trying to curtail these types of crimes since at least as far back as 1968, when the first federal hate crime legislation was passed with Title I of the Civil Rights Act. Some states have also enacted their own, often more stringent, hate crime legislation. In fact, there are currently 46 states with some type of hate crime law on the books. But those laws differ, sometimes substantially, by state.

Stacker collected information and statistics from the Movement Advancement Project's Policy Spotlight: Hate Crime Laws report to understand how hate crime laws differ across the U.S.

You may also like: 20 influential Indigenous Americans you might not know about

SPOKANE, WASH. — Most people who experience hate crimes will experience them in private homes or on sidewalks in Spokane.

That is according to a report by the Spokane County Human Rights Task Force (SCHRFT). 

It’s the first cumulative data that includes both incidents of hate and details of biases committed against others that may not be classified as a crime. SCHRFT released the report to increase awareness and enable local nonprofits, activists, elected leaders and law enforcement to design more effective response plans.  

SCHRTF Board President Paul Schneider said the organization not only wanted to publish a report with data but also to find a way for the public to access a resource that allows people to report specific types of hate crimes. 

“Members of the task force, along with its community partners realized that there was no way for the public to, not just report incidents of crime, but really, incidents of biases reflecting either their religion, race, or sexual orientation,” Schneider said. “[It allows] us to have a public reporting system alongside the ability to analyze the data that came from that.”  

According to the report, the most common type of hate crime people experienced was verbal harassment, threats or intimidation. The report also includes data that suggest racism and religious hatred were the primary motivation behind different types of hate experienced. In Spokane County, anti-Black and anti-gay biases were reported in many locations while other biases were concentrated in one or two places.  

The report also examined the role of the police regarding hate crimes. The data suggest that “except for vandalism to property and harassment, most kinds of hate experienced weren’t reported to the police.” The organization hopes that the report will ignite change among a series of different communities. 

“We know that incidents of hate and bias are underreported,” Schneider said. “So, part of our work is making sure to promote the report along with our tool, so that communities across Spokane County can get very comfortable using that tool if they’re encountering bias in any way shape or form.”  

Dean Lynch, the President of the SCHRTF, said he specifically hopes that the report will pinpoint existing patterns and quickly develop solutions for community members experiencing hate.  

“The Hate Report will be readily available to colleges {and} universities, social service agencies and municipal governments,” Lynch said. “It is our hope that if any trends are identified, a response can be developed quickly with representatives of the targeted community and focused to address specific issues, making the response more effective and potentially more cost-effective.”

If you’ve experienced any kind of hate crime, including biases, you can visit SCHRTF’s website to report it.