Hate crime summit talks about how to encourage more people to report
Participants learned how to speak up and what law enforcement is doing to make it easier.
FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (8/6/2020) - A reminder Thursday from federal, state and local Genesee County law enforcement leaders -- please reach out if you’re the victim of a hate crime.
Mott Community College brought the conversation online in a Virtual Hate Crime Summit.
Listeners learned how to speak up and what law enforcement is doing to make it easier.
Mott Community College’s Dale said community members reached out after seeing a rise in hate crimes nationally. They wanted to have a conversation, taking a look at what’s happening in the local Genesee County community and share what resources are available.
“I have seen stuff on Facebook, where just by my name they know I’m a Muslim. And sometimes, without pointing that out, they just say that okay you seem to be the problem,” Adil Mohammed.
He’s the co-founder of the International Center of Greater Flint, an organization that brings together the various minority groups in mid-Michigan.
Mohammed helped make Thursday’s Virtual Hate Crime Summit happen.
“I have a real concern in sometimes we don’t say it out loud. But I think we have to, you know, we have to take a positive, more proactive step towards understanding what’s going on and what concerns we have,” he explained.
Mohammed said hearing that all of these law enforcement partners are paying attention makes him feel empowered to speak up.
That was Special Agent Hank Impola’s and Assistant Attorney General Sunita Doddamani’s goal.
The two shared only 3-percent of hate crimes are actually reported.
“We have this under-reporting because there’s a ton of barriers to reporting,” Doddamani explained.
As a member of the AG's newly formed Hate Crimes Unit, she said those barriers include mistrust between law enforcement and community, victims not taken seriously, and language or cultural barriers.
She added, “The first thing I always say is report, report, report, even if you don’t know if it’s a crime, to have it documented.”
“Even if it is a minor incident, like maybe it’s a racial bias incident where a letter or hate speech is somewhere, where vandalism occurs,” Impola added. “There’s a chance it’s just the start of it.”
Impola shared photos of evidence he's gathered over the last few years at crime scenes across Genesee County. Proof he said, the threat is real.
“We can’t shy away, we can’t be scared. You know, we have to, we have to do what’s right,” Mohammed said.
If you are a victim or witness of a hate crime, you can always report anonymously through Crime Stoppers. You can all 1-800-422-JAIL or submit a tip through the P3 mobile app.
There are translators available to help.
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