Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to work with a hate crime investigator while working on the www.YEGHateCrimes.com project (a five-year analysis of police-reported incidents and crimes involving hate as a motivating factor). It was interesting to learn how he viewed his role as a hate crime investigator and the constant tension he faced while trying to manage police duties with community expectations.
This tension spoke to a larger issue of understanding about how the police and community define a hate crime, and revealed a gap between police and community expectations in addressing incidents where hate was presumed to be a motivating factor. Sadly, this hate crime investigator tragically lost his life in the line of duty in June 2015.
Nearly two in three hate crimes in the U.S. are not reported to the police.
A week prior to this tragedy, the two of us had met at police headquarters. He shared a story with me of a recent meeting with a religious community, where concerns were raised about cemeteries being vandalized. Although there was no proof, the community suspected it was a hate crime, as it had been occurring on a weekly basis. After hearing their concerns, the investigator asked them if they had reported any of these cases to the police. They responded with a resounding “no.”
Reports from Statistics Canada highlight that a central issue regarding hate crimes in Canada relates to underreporting (Janhevich, 2001). But this issue is not unique to Canada. A 2013 U.S. Department of Justice study found that nearly two in three hate crimes in the U.S. are not reported to the police, as victims doubt police can or will help (Sandholtz, Langton and Planty, 2013), or are worried that their concerns will not be taken seriously (Davies, 2013). Victims of hate crimes also do not report due to: fear of reprisal by their perpetrators (Roberts, 1995); fear and mistrust of law enforcement (Janhevich, 2001); and the fear of secondary victimization (Janhevich, 2001).
Hate crimes send a message: “You are not welcome here.”
With the tragic events of this past week in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad, the potential increases for hate crimes towards communities incorrectly deemed “responsible” for these events. At the time of writing, a Hindu Temple has already been vandalized in Kitchener, ON, and a Mosque was burned to the ground in Peterborough, ON. Although these two events were reported to the police, it is presumable to think that many others will not be (for similar reasons mentioned above).
Hate crimes are a direct threat to the principles of Canadian multiculturalism and have the potential to present obstacles to the willingness of affected communities to engage in civic life (Perry, 2015). Hate crimes target societal norms and values and rip away at the aspiration of Canadian multiculturalism (Perry, 2015). They send a message: “You are not welcome here.”
By reporting hate crimes, however, a stronger message can be sent. By working collectively with community and policing partners, we can collectively protect the ideals and aspirations of Canadian multiculturalism and truly show that this type of hateful behaviour is not welcome here.
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Davies, Caroline. (2013). “Most gay victims fail to report hate crimes to police, says report”. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/15/gay-victims-hate-crime-police (accessed July 22 2015).
Janhevich, Derek. (2001). Hate Crime in Canada: An Overview of Issues and Data Sources. Available online: http://publications.gc.ca/Collection-R/Statcan/85-551-XIE/0009985-551-XIE.pdf
Perry, Barbara. (2015). Disrupting the Mantra of Multiculturalism: Hate Crime in Canada. In American Behavioral Scientist 59(13) 1637 – 1654.
Roberts, Julian (1995). Disproportionate Harm: Hate Crime in Canada – An analysis of recent statistics. Ottawa: Department of Justice Canada. Available online: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/csj-sjc/crime/wd95_11-dt95_11/wd95_11.pdf
Sandholtz, Nathan, Langton, Lynn, and Planty, Michael. (2013). Hate Crime Victimization, 2003 – 2011. U.S. Department of Justice. Available online: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/hcv0311.pdf