Fifty-five bias-related incidents were reported to Eugene’s Equity and Human Rights Center (EHRC) in 2013 — an increase of four reports from last year. Equity and Human Rights Analyst Lindsey Foltz says a lot of bias-related activity is unreported, in part because of a lack of trust of the government or police.
She says she received a report in 2013 that “would have been an assault, and maybe even an assault with a potentially deadly weapon. So, it’s a fairly serious crime. But she absolutely did not want to go to the police — she did not feel safe sharing with them.”
In those cases, Foltz shares general non-identifying things with police but no personal information or location of incident.
“It made sense why she didn’t want to,” Foltz says. “But at that same time, it’s like, ‘Oh, I wish you would.’ Because there’s still that person out there who could do that to someone else.”
Foltz says some people will tell her they have experienced incidents previously, which they have not reported.
Juan Carlos Valle, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, is certain there are unreported incidents. He says minorities often lack trust in governments or police.
“Some who have grown up in this community have gone through that experience,” Valle says, “or we bring that from other communities.”
Race was the most commonly reported reason for bias-related incidents, accounting for 42 percent of criminal incidents and 56 percent of non-criminal incidents in 2013.
Reports are categorized based on race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, association, sexual orientation or disability.
There were 13 reports of incidents motivated by sexual identity — more than double the amount reported in 2012.
“I don’t know that there’s more of it going on. It’s just hard to say,” EHRC Manager Michael Kinnison says. “I think we’re also getting better at the reporting parts of it.”
He attributes the increase in part to the department working more closely with Eugene Police Department.
“We just think that officers are probably being more efficient in flagging and routing bias crimes,” Kinnison says. “That could also produce higher numbers.”