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Oregon Attorney General Plans Bill To Address Rise In Hate Crimes

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum in Salem, Oregon, on Feb. 17, 2015.

Alan Sylvestre

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum in Salem, Oregon, on Feb. 17, 2015.

Oregon's attorney general will introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session aimed at strengthening the state’s hate crimes laws.

Hate crimes in Oregon increased by 40 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to the FBI.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she’s working on a bill that would improve data collection, add services for victims and require prosecutors to focus more on the content of a crime.

“Right now in Oregon, it’s actually a more serious hate crime for two individuals to work together to leave racist graffiti on a building than it is for one person to jump somebody because of the color of their skin and violently assault them," Rosenblum said in an interview.

Her legislation would also address data collection, she said, because many police agencies don’t report them, despite it being a state requirement. Prosecutors are not required to report hate crimes.

“We just don’t know as much as we should about hate crimes in Oregon," Rosenblum said.

Rosenblum pointed to two 2017 cases in Clackamas County where known hate crimes were prosecuted by the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office. But those cases were not reflected in the FBI's federal database on hate crimes.

The attorney general said her legislation will also create better support services for victims.


This week, Rosenblum is hosting a series of listening sessions in Portland, Eugene and Medford.

Editors note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated who is required to report hate crimes to the state. Only police agencies are. OPB regrets the error.

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Conrad Wilson is a reporter and producer covering criminal justice and legal affairs for OPB.