MILWAUKEE — In our Two America’s report, we show you the rise in hate crimes.
The FBI’s Milwaukee office tells TMJ4 News that more than 70 hate crimes have already been reported this year.
They’re not only happening within city limits, they are happening in rural communities as well.
We met with the FBI to find out what they are doing to get vulnerable groups to report these heinous crimes.
“It’s not just an attack on an individual or a couple individuals like the [Sikh] Temple shooting,” said FBI Supervisory Agent Christopher Farrell. “It’s an attack on a community, right?”
We saw this first-hand in August of 2012 with the Sikh Temple shooting in Oak Creek. 40-year-old white supremacist Wade Michael Page killed six people and wounded four others, before he died by suicide.
Farrell works to protect our civil rights and apprehend people carrying out or plotting hate crimes.
His squad has several hate crime investigations open right now that he could not talk about.
As of 2020, we are at a 12-year high in hate crimes reported to the FBI, with over 8,000 incidents. More than 60 percent of those incidents involved a person’s race.
“Rural communities is where we definitely need to do outreach,” said Farrell. “Communities in a rural area may not have connections to the FBI.”
Which is why the FBI is reaching out to vulnerable community groups, showing them how to report hate crimes. “Know that they can provide information to us and it will remain confidential and we have their interest in mind," Farrell said.
One of the groups includes ElevAsian, a Milwaukee organization aimed at elevating the local Asian community. Erik Kennedy is a co-founder.
“I’ve had conversations with the FBI officers and those that are leading this initiative," said Kennedy. "I think it's coming to an understanding that historically we have been told to keep our heads down and go about our business.”
In the last month Kennedy, who is of Korean descent, was a target of hate speech as he was walking out of a local business. “It’s unfortunately sad and angers me that we are still dealing with hate.”
Kennedy reported this to local police and that is where the FBI plans to do its next outreach. Agents have already gone over hate crime laws with Milwaukee Police and the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.
“If this is something that falls into a federal hate crime, and then we work closely with the U.S. Attorney's offices involved,” said Farrell.
It's a reminder to remain vigilant.
Protected classes under hate crimes includes: age, class, disability, gender, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sex or sexual orientation.
YOU CAN REPORT HATE CRIMES TO THE FBI BY CALLING 1 (800) CALL-FBI OR SUBMIT TIPS AT TIPS.FBI.GOV.