This post was originally published on Sacramento Observer

By Tairiq Marshall | OBSERVER Contributor

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently launched a nationwide campaign to address hate crimes among marginalized groups, according to a news release posted by its Sacramento Field Office. 

The newly established campaign intends to raise awareness around hate crimes and encourages individuals to report any kind of hate-related transgressions to law enforcement. 

“Our local campaign represents an investment in the communities we serve and enhances our continuing outreach and education efforts throughout our territory,” Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office said in a statement. “No member of our community, regardless of background or immigration status, should be victimized by bias-motivated threats or violence. When those crimes do occur, they deserve response and action. We encourage victims to come forward and report all incidents to law enforcement.”

As a way to aid the FBI’s effort, the local field office has placed both print ads in local community publications and public service ads in Spanish language radio stations, according to the release.

The print ads provide a QR code that directs viewers to the FBI Civil Rights Program web page, which provides more information regarding hate crimes and resources to diminish them.

“There have been a lot of hate crimes and similar instances that have been reported recently,” said Tecoy Porter, a senior pastor at Genesis Church in South Sacramento and Senate candidate for District 6. “You see a lot of that in our very schools across the city. They start with these hateful incidents.”  

Porter, who is also the president of the Sacramento chapter of the National Action Network, alluded to a common lack of trust in law enforcement among people of color due to a long history of excessive force and said it contributes to a number of hate crimes going unreported in their neighborhoods. 

“In our communities, there is extra force and over-policing deployed too often by law enforcement,” Porter said. “There is a lack of trust by people. Why would they feel comfortable contacting the police?” 

Porter reiterated that resolving the disconnect between people of color and law enforcement is paramount in addressing hate-related crimes and that the FBI is “spot on.” 

Porter, an African American male who resides in Elk Grove, recounted an incident in which he was reporting a crime in his neighborhood and had to reassure dispatch that he was the victim of the crime rather than the perpetrator. 

Porter then drew a correlation between his fear of being wrongfully accused of a crime by law enforcement in an affluent neighborhood and the same fear that dwellers within inner cities possess when interacting with police. 

“If I’m fearful of being a victim of abuse by police and I live here,  just imagine the fear that people have in communities of lower socioeconomic status where over-policing is common,” Porter said. 

Essence Noel, a child advocate and former program manager at Leataata Floyd Elementary School, said she worries about some of the challenges Black and brown youth will face in society without a definitive resolution to eradicate hate crimes across the country. 

“I’ve had the privilege of working with children and their families from lower-income communities for a while now, all of whom are of color,” Noel said. “It’s truly scary for me because you always have to worry about the adversity and the harm they’ll encounter when they grow up.” 

Noel has worked closely with underserved youth for over five years and said she hopes that the campaign will set the precedent for future generations.

“The fact that we even have to prepare our babies for some of the hatred and prejudice they might experience is just heartbreaking,” she said. “I just hope this campaign is a step in the right direction for when my kids are of age. But I appreciate the efforts nonetheless.”

The FBI revealed their 2020 Hate Crime Statistics on Oct. 25, which reported that nearly 62 percent of single-bias incidents derived from racial or ethnic animus toward groups of color.

The next most common bias motivations were sexual orientation and religion, the former at 20 percent and the latter at 13.3 percent. 

Eighteen-year-old Sacramento resident Zawadi Nga recounted some of the hate crimes that she experienced living in predominantly White communities and said that the campaign “makes her feel like her voice is heard.”

“I’ve grown up in a community where people don’t necessarily look like me or go through what I go through as a Black woman,” Nga said. “Because of that, I’ve had all kinds of hateful language and behavior spewed out towards me. Most of the time, it would just go unacknowledged but now, these hateful and bigoted practices are being addressed.”  

“Whether it be racial, sexual or religious, it all comes down to accountability by law enforcement,” Porter said. “They need to continue making strides for accountability and transparency. I want to be able to call 911 and report issues like this without the fear of them going unaddressed.”  

Victims and witnesses of hate crimes are advised to report it to the FBI by calling 1-800-225-5324 or submitting a tip at tips.fbi.gov.

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