The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently launched a nationwide campaign to increase awareness of hate crimes and encourage victims and witnesses of hate-related crimes to report them to law enforcement.
To complement this effort, the FBI Sacramento Field Office has placed print ads in several locally owned community publications and placed Spanish language radio public service ads throughout its 34-county area of responsibility in partnership with the California Broadcasters Association. The print ads include a QR code that immediately routes viewers to the FBI Civil Rights Program web page to offer more detail about hate crimes and additional resources, https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/civil-rights/hate-crimes.
“Our local campaign represents an investment in the communities we serve and enhances our continuing outreach and education efforts throughout our territory,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “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. In order to protect our communities, we also encourage witnesses and concerned citizens ant potential hate crimes.”
Victims and witnesses of hate crimes are encouraged to report the crime to the FBI by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or submitting a tip online at tips.fbi.gov. Tips may be submitted anonymously.
A federal hate crime is defined as a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity. Hate crimes are a high priority for the FBI because of the intended, devastating impact such crimes have on entire communities, according to a release.
As the lead investigative agency for criminal violations of federal civil rights statutes, the FBI partners with local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement to ensure a thorough investigation of the facts of alleged crimes, even if federal charges are not ultimately pursued. The FBI is committed to protecting all victims of federal crimes, regardless of immigration status, the release stated.
The criminal aspect of the offense is an important element. Hate itself, while hurtful and offensive, is not a crime — and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties while ensuring the safety of all communities it serves, according to a press release from the agency.
“While hateful speech is largely protected, a threat is an example of speech— written or spoken — that may cross the line and be a criminal offense,” clarified Ragan.
The FBI released “Hate Crime Statistics, 2020” in August. The release and report is available via the following link: https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2020-hate-crime-statistics.