Did you know that for every three hate crimes that occur, two go unreported?
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, hate crimes are more common than many realize.
Because of that startling fact, local organizers are coming together to bring the issue of hate crimes to light during a presentation and panel discussion called "Hate Crimes in the LGBTQ Community: Connecting Federal & Local Responses" from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Public Safety Academy on Ivy Tech's South Campus, 7602 Patriot Crossing.
The presentation is sponsored by the Northeast Indiana LGBTQ Coalition, in partnership with Ivy Tech Community College and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.
The event will begin with a presentation from FBI, which will discuss the partnership between local and federal police as well as give an overview of the policies and procedures when it comes to investigating a hate crime.
Following the FBI's presentation, a panel of local leaders in education, law enforcement, behavioral sciences, law, and nonprofit organizations will participate in a panel discussion on the following topics:
-The root of hate crimes from a psychological perspective
-The link between youth bullying and hate crimes
-Local law enforcement response and challenges
-Community response and opportunities for involvement
-Impact of the lack of state hate crime laws and their enforcement
-What makes hate crimes unique and distinct?
Panelists include John Beams, Center for Nonviolence; Dr. Sam Cunningham, St. Patrick's Parish & Center for Nonviolence; Dr. Jeannie DiClementi, IPFW; Dottie Davis, Fort Wayne Community Schools security director; Pastor Brian Flory, Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren; Thaddeus Gerardot, Fort Wayne Equality; Tom Pellegrene Jr., Fort Wayne Journal Gazette; Kent Notestine, IPFW Police Department; and Ric Robles, FWPD Hispanic liaison officer. The panel will be moderated by Andrew Downs, associate professor of public policy at IPFW.
According to the FBI's website, "a hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, Congress has defined a hate crime 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, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.'"
There are no state laws addressing hate crimes in Indiana, other than mandating education for teachers.
Roger McNett, of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) said the issue of hate crimes is touchy in Indiana, which is exactly why the group wanted to open a thorough discussion on the issue.
"Because Indiana doesn't have a hate crimes law, most people in Indiana don't thoroughly understand what it takes to qualify something as a hate crime when it comes to federal law. It's an important legal issue and the presentation is really cool. When I heard this same type of precession a few years ago, there was so much information I was not even aware of and people need to know," he said.
McNett said sometime crimes can be treated as an assault and battery under state and local laws, but if certain criteria are met, then the federal government can come in to look at the issue from a hate crime perspective.
"The more information you have, the better armed you are to make a positive difference," he said.
Northeast Indiana in 2009 had three reported hate crimes: two racial, one religious. In 2010, five cases were reported; four religious and one racial. In 2011, no hate crimes were reported. Overall Indiana is ranked 21st in the nation for hate crimes. Although these numbers seem low, only one in three hate crimes is reported.
The Northeast Indiana LGBTQ Coalition is a group of about 15 local organization that seeks to enhance and support LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning) services in Allen County by raising awareness and engaging in education and advocacy. This presentation is one of the organization's largest gatherings all year.
This event is free and open to the public, but donations will be accepted. Participants attending both sessions will receive a Certificate of Completion for four and a half hours of training.
To register for the free event, visit the Eventbrite ticket site.
For questions or additional info, visit the coalition's Facebook page.