The FBI wants Oregonians to report hate crimes and bias incidents, which law enforcement and researchers say occur far more often than they get reported.
According to FBI crime data, there were 290 bias incidents reported in Oregon last year. The annual total has more than doubled since 2018. The number of victims also increased to 428 last year.
“We continue to hear anecdotally of people experiencing hate incidents and then fearing or being confused as to how to report them,” said Kieran Ramsey, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon.
A hate crime is when a person’s motive towards harming another is based on race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, disability, or sexual orientation.
“Admittedly, not every hate incident is a hate crime, and not every hate crime is a federal hate crime,” Ramsey said. “If law enforcement doesn’t know about it, we can’t do anything about it.”
The FBI has pushed its campaign on billboards in Medford, Corvallis, Eugene and at the Portland International Airport.
For the last several years, Oregon has tried to increase reporting of bias crimes and incidents. In 2019, Oregon lawmakers passed legislation that created a hotline to better capture both crimes and incidents.
Ramsey applauded the state’s efforts.
“I offer the FBI as a tool or a channel for people to report potential hate crimes too,” Ramsey said.
Some people, he said, are “fearful” to make a report with local police “for whatever reason, they have a reticence to, and perhaps they’re more comfortable calling a national hotline.”
The FBI can be reached at: 1-800-CALL-FBI or online at tips.fbi.gov.
Oregon’s Bias Response Hotline is: 1-844-924-BIAS