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AG: Oregon Senate passes bill tightening state hate crime laws

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is praising the Senate for passing a bill that would make Oregon's hate crime laws more comprehensive.

Posted: Jun 14, 2019 11:25 AM
Updated: Jun 14, 2019 11:44 AM

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Senate has passed a bill which would make the state's laws against hate crimes more comprehensive, according to Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. Rosenblum has been an outspoken champion of the bill.

“This bill is the culmination of a significant community effort to provide law enforcement with an updated law that gives themnew tools to investigate, enforce, and combat bias crime and bias incidents in Oregon,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “This law will better capture bias crimes in Oregon by having stronger mechanisms in place for victims to report bias crimes and incidents that may not be a criminal act—but are rooted in bias and just as harmful to Oregonians.”

Senate Bill 577 resulted from the AG's Hate Crimes Task Force, a group of activists, policymakers, religious leaders, and law enforcement officers that toured western Oregon early this year, taking inventory of the kinds of hate crimes that people experience and developing legislation to address them.

Rosenblum and the Hate Crimes Task Force came to Medford in January for a "listening session" to help sharpen those policies.

According to Rosenblum, the new bill intends to do the following:

  • Focus on the victim. This law creates a better system to support victims of hate and bias activity by requiring law enforcement to refer victims to the Oregon Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division for assistance, safety planning and other services if their case cannot otherwise be prosecuted.
  • Improve the collection of hate crimes data. Law enforcement agencies are required to record any crime which they interpret to be a “bias crime”, but many law enforcement agencies in Oregon routinely report no hate crimes. For example, in 2018, Medford, Grants Pass, Roseburg and Bend reported zero hate crimes. This law will require far more comprehensive data collection in this area, starting with hate “incidents,” conduct which may not rise to the level of a crime, and going through the prosecution and sentencing of any crime motivated by bias. The Criminal Justice Commission will be required to work with the Oregon State Police, district attorneys and the Oregon Department of Justice to collect, interpret and publicly report on hate and bias activity in Oregon.
  • Modernize Oregon’s “Intimidation” statute. Oregon’s intimidation statute was written in 1981, and was written in response to organized supremacist gang activity. For this reason, the statute as presently written focuses on the number of participants, not the character of the underlying harm. For example, it is a felony for two individuals to apply racist graffiti but it is only a misdemeanor for one individual to physically assault another individual because of the color of their skin. This law adds violence, or the immediate threat of violence, based on a person’s membership in a protected class as a felony.
  • Clarifies that “gender identity” is a protected class. Individuals victimized for their gender identity are believed to be the fastest growing type of hate crime. This new law brings Oregon in step with many other states and adds gender identity to the list of protected classes.

SB 577 now goes on to the House of Representatives. 

Oregon has seen several high-profile cases in the past several years that have been regarded as hate crimes, including a former Oregon State University student who placed stickers with racial epithets on people's vehicles, another man who attacked a Sikh convenience store clerk, and the Portland man accused of stabbing and killing two men in a light-rail car when they stepped up to defend two Muslim women.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30060

Reported Deaths: 521
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah6690129
Marion433689
Washington420858
Umatilla288141
Clackamas219961
Malheur147023
Jackson10073
Lane91314
Deschutes73912
Yamhill72114
Jefferson5038
Polk48915
Morrow4775
Lincoln47013
Linn44913
Union4352
Klamath2672
Benton2476
Hood River2400
Wasco2303
Douglas1953
Josephine1802
Columbia1481
Coos1340
Clatsop1060
Baker892
Crook601
Tillamook470
Lake290
Wallowa281
Curry260
Sherman180
Harney120
Grant100
Gilliam70
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

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Reported Deaths: 14804
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Riverside563741143
San Bernardino51467839
Orange513991115
San Diego43619754
Kern31076340
Fresno27381348
Sacramento20961371
Alameda20162365
Santa Clara19891295
San Joaquin19701407
Stanislaus16150325
Contra Costa15544197
Tulare15486255
Ventura12073141
Imperial11457310
San Francisco1056991
San Mateo9332142
Monterey919765
Santa Barbara8785109
Merced8692131
Kings715877
Sonoma6827114
Marin6505111
Solano605455
Madera427058
Placer338541
San Luis Obispo331627
Yolo272153
Butte270433
Santa Cruz21088
Sutter162110
Napa158713
San Benito126010
Yuba11087
El Dorado10544
Mendocino81718
Lassen7300
Shasta66114
Glenn5473
Colusa4996
Nevada4975
Tehama4853
Humboldt4826
Lake43310
Calaveras30513
Amador28616
Tuolumne2163
Inyo18714
Mono1632
Siskiyou1590
Del Norte1351
Mariposa752
Plumas490
Modoc230
Trinity150
Sierra60
Alpine20
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