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Mark Potok Discusses Hate Crimes

Pete Springer/OPB

On February 15th, 24 year-old Adam Salnardi went to a park in Gresham to meet someone he had met online. Instead, he found five people who beat him and robbed him in what is being considered as a hate crime against him because of his sexual orientation. This isn’t the first time Salnardi has been targeted because he is gay.

His experience is one of many where people are targeted because of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists hate incidents from across the country. A search for Oregon shows five such incidents in 2012 including these:

  • In Monmouth “a racial slur was carved into the door at St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • In Springfield “a 15-year-old biracial youth was allegedly chased by a truck occupied by four white people who yelled racial slurs and threatened him.”
  • In Portland “Paul Anthony Martinson, 39, faces charges of assault, intimidation and criminal mischief for allegedly using anti-gay slurs and assaulting a gay couple walking downtown.”

Likely a many other threats and crimes went unreported.

According to The Southern Poverty Law Center there are 13 active hate groups in Oregon, mostly in Portland and Eugene.  However, Randy Blazak, who runs the Coalition Against Hate Crimes, explains that much of the hate activity in Oregon these days is perpetrated by individuals or small groups, not organizations like the now apparently disbanded Volksfront.

Have you been a victim of a hate crime? Are you a member of a minority who has felt the community stress when someone in your group has been a victim?

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