Oregon's unique resources make reporting hate easy

In my last column, I talked about the importance of reporting antisemitic incidents to me through my incident reporting form at https://jewishportland.org/security. Continuing that thread, I want to share information about a unique resource we have here in Oregon. Oregon was the first state in the US that funded a Bias Response Hotline. Illinois is the only other state I’m aware of that has since developed one. Our hotline is funded by the state and serviced out of Oregon’s Department of Justice (DOJ). 
I’m going to take a step back for a moment and talk about the difference between a bias incident and a bias crime. As described on the Bias Response Hotline website, a bias incident is “any hostile expression that may be motivated by another person’s actual or perceived protected class, meaning their race, color, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.” In this example, there does not have to be an actual violation of a law. Name-calling, using an ethnic or racial slur, and creating racist or derogatory images are all examples of bias incidents. 
A “hate crime” in Oregon is called a bias crime. These are crimes that are “motivated in part or whole by bias against another person’s actual or perceived protected class.” People often think bias crimes are only prosecuted under federal laws, however, there are also state and tribal hate and bias crime laws. Bias crimes can be verbal, physical, or visual. Examples include assaulting, injuring, or touching someone offensively, vandalizing private property with racist or derogatory graffiti or threatening to physically harm someone or their property based on their perceived protected class.
It’s important to understand the difference so victims can develop appropriate expectations around police response and incident resolution. Know that you don’t have to figure out what type of incident occurred. The most important thing is for the incident to be reported and then I or the Hotline personnel can help victims determine what kind of incident you experienced and connect you with law enforcement if appropriate and desired. I also often help victims obtain resources through the Bias Response Hotline program following an incident. For instance, the Hotline offers funds to help victims recover from incidents. The fund pays up to $1,000 for emergency costs and covers expenses such as home security cameras, video doorbells, changing locks, and repairing windows and doors. Funds might help relocate a victim, assist with rent or moving expenses, repair property, or clean up vandalism. 
Oregon DOJ has also partnered with the Oregon State Bar to provide free legal advice for low-income residents. Questions are submitted online, and lawyers log on to the system and provide advice, answers, and resources. If you are a lawyer and would like to participate in this program, please reach out to them as they are actively looking for lawyers in the areas of consumer, family, immigration, employment, and housing law. In one instance, I helped an individual identify legal resources following a series of hostile work issues due to his Jewish identity. 
The Bias Response Hotline is a wonderful resource. I meet with Hotline administrators regularly and am always astonished at how often people in the far corners of Oregon are dealing with antisemitic activity. I’m going to continue to encourage local victims to let me know first about incidents in our Portland area. However, if you’re more comfortable reaching out to the hotline, you should do so – it’s confidential and staffed with culturally specific specialists. Incidents can be reported through a web portal at justice.oregon.gov/CrimeReporting/BiasCrime or by calling 844-924-BIAS (844-924-2427). They offer services in nine languages and have access to interpretation for another 240 languages. 


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