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Oregon Criminal Justice Commission says bias, hate incidents on the rise

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(The Center Square) – The Oregon Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Unit recently released its annual Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) report and found that bias-related complaints are becoming more common.

The report, released on July 1 each year, focuses on reported instances of hate and bias reported across the state, including complaints sent to the state’s Bias Response Hotline, law enforcement agency investigations, district attorney prosecutions, court findings, and data from the Oregon Department of Corrections.

Since 2020, bias-motivated reports to the state’s hotline have increased by 178 percent, up to 2,534 reports in 2022, according to a press release from the Oregon Department of Justice.

“Hate is a stain on our state,” Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said. “Our Bias Response Hotline is an essential resource for supporting victims of bias and hate incidents, as well as a critical tool for monitoring trends in bias and hate in Oregon. Everyone should feel like they belong in Oregon.”

The biggest spike in reports to the hotline were complaints about bias based on sexual orientation and “gender identity”, according to the report, with such complaints rising by 430% and 639%, respectively. Additionally, the report found that 75% of religious bias complaints came from Jews, far greater than any other religious group.

The Oregon Department of Justice established its Bias Response Hotline in January 2020. Since then, it has received more than 7,200 reports of hate and bias throughout the state.

The state offers a Crime Victims’ Compensation Program to those who have reported a bias crime or incident where victims can apply for up to $1,000 in Emergency Monies for Bias Victims, “to help with safety, security, relocation, property repair, or other assistance in the aftermath of bias,” according to the release.

“The work of our community partners and our Bias Response Hotline team are critical in Oregon’s response to hate and bias, but more must be done to stop hate in its tracks, to restore civility, and to respect our human purpose,” Fay Stetz-Waters, Oregon DOJ’s Director of Civil Rights, said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to eradicate hate, and it will take all of us to commit to stopping hate and bias.”

People can contact the Bias Response Hotline by visiting StandAgainstHate.Oregon.gov or calling 1-844-924-BIAS (2427).

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