Oregon made news this morning for achieving another No. 1 national ranking. But it's nothing to celebrate.
Reporters with BuzzFeed news discovered that the state, "founded as a white haven," now leads the nation in hate crimes documented in a new data-gathering project from the investigative non-profit journalism website ProPublica, along with a consortium of news organizations, civil rights groups and universities.
Among all states, Oregon residents have sent in the highest rate of reports per capita to the Documenting Hate project, a database of tips about hate crimes and bias incidents set up by ProPublica and being shared with around two dozen other news organizations, including BuzzFeed News.
BuzzFeed, which dedicated three reporters to the lengthy story, examined 44 incidents reported to the Documenting Hate project between November 8, 2016, and March 3 of this year. Of 18 reports followed up by the BuzzFeed team, "none involved a criminal act more serious than graffiti." But they were disturbing nonetheless. Among those incidents:
Ericka Mason spotted Nazi stickers on a federal courthouse wall in Eugene during a rally to protest President Donald Trump’s executive order banning people from several Muslim-majority countries. Max Gordon, who has a mezuzah on his doorway, woke up to find a large swastika drawn in the snow on his lawn in Portland. Jeff Petrillo found white supremacy flyers stacked on a table during a school board meeting in Beaverton. Many others have seen the graffiti: swastikas in Portland; “We’re watching you” on a Eugene bar with an anti-fascist sign on the door; “Anne Frank’s oven” on a utility box less than 100 yards from a synagogue in Ashland.
Anecdotal reports such as these are the best short-term measure of hate crimes available. As demonstrated by one recent incident in Portland, involving self-professed Nazis making trouble at a local bar, not every act of hate speech or vandalism results in a police report. And hate crime statistics from law enforcement reports compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation are released only on an annual basis.
BuzzFeed did try get in touch with Jimmy Marr, a notorious Oregon white supremacist who was involved in the recent beer hall standoff in Portland. As the website reported, "Marr's current voicemail recording prompts callers: 'Hi, leave us a message and tell us what you're doing to fight white genocide.'"
ProPublica encourages submissions to its Documenting Hate project, though it cautions these reports will not be forwarded on to police.