NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – 117 hate crimes were committed in Tennessee during 2019, according to the United States Department of Justice.
“There has been a trend, and it’s slightly trending upwards,” says FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Richard Baer.
The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee acknowledging the problem isn’t going away.
“Unfortunately, in our society at this time, and for whatever political reason, there are a lot of social influences going on – a lot of social movements going on right now,” says Sara Beth Myers the Asst. United States Attorney and Civil Rights Coordinator for the Middle District of Tennessee. “People may not feel comfortable reporting or even know that they can report a hate crime.”
This is why the two have joined forces launching an awareness campaign reminding the community about the importance of reporting hate crimes.
“Race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability these are areas where we’re looking to make sure those victims understand that they can be targeted,” Myers says.
But, unreported acts of violence are difficult to investigate, which is why the community’s support is crucial.
“We need people to help us do the best that we can to identify the issues that are going on,” urges Myers.
Special Agent Baer adds, “We’re going out and meeting with our multi cultural and minority based groups to let them know who we are and giving them a better understanding and a better level of comfort for bring those types of scenarios towards us.”
While Americans have protection under the First Amendment to say what they think, Myers says, “When it rises to the level of a true threat against that individual because of their protected status, that could be a hate crime.”
To report a hate crime, call 1-800-CALL-FBI. Report online by clicking this link.