ST. LOUIS – The FBI is launching a new campaign to encourage the public to report hate crimes. The FBI will be posting ads around the area to raise awareness.
Here is where you can see some of the ads:
- Exterior of 16 Metro Buses
- Interior of 100 Metro Buses
- Digital billboards
- Light Rail Shelters
The FBI says messaging will also be on the radio, social media, and even on digital displays at gas pumps.
The message that the FBI is trying to get across is if you are a victim or witness anybody who has been victimized by actions of violence, and it is due to someone’s ethnicity, race, gender, gender orientation, religion, disability, or another protected group, please report the crime.
The FBI says it is trying to raise public awareness because timing is crucial. Officials say reporting hate crimes online or hotline is the most direct and anonymous way to make a report.
You can report a hate crime online at www.tips.fbi.gov or at 1-800-CALL-FBI.
In August, the FBI released nationwide statistics showing reported hate crimes were the highest they’ve been in 12 years with more than 7,500 incidents. In Missouri, reported hate crime incidents have doubled from 66 in 2018 to 115 in 2020.
“The United States Attorney’s Office stands shoulder to shoulder with the FBI and other state and federal partners in their efforts to identify, investigate, and prosecute all forms of hate crimes,” said Saylor Fleming, U.S. Attorney Eastern District of Missouri.
Special Agent in Charge Richard Quinn described a hate crime as an act of violence that is perpetrated against a victim due to their race, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.
The hate crimes task force identified Black Americans, the Jewish community, LGBTQ plus – specifically trans women of color – and Asian or pacific islanders as the most at-risk for hate crimes.
Fox 2 asked if this campaign was probed by any concern with Afghan refugees making their way to the St. Louis region.
“We’ve already talked to the Institute about what it might be like for the Afghan community. I’m hoping the answer is there’s not a spike there,” said Karen Aroesty, co-chair for U.S. Attorney’s Hate Crimes Task Force.
The campaign will be publicized on Bi-State Metro Buses, bus shelters, MetroLink transit centers, Billboards across the State, gas station pumps, radio airwaves, and on social media platforms.
“The key to improving response and community support is reporting,” said Aroesty. “When traditionally targeted community members know who to contact and have a trusting relationship with advocates of law enforcement representatives, we can be more effective all around.”
St. Louis residents are wary about the impact this initiative will actually make.
“I don’t think that we are protected. I feel like most of the hate crimes, it can hit any of us, so I don’t really feel like we are protected. We’ve been fighting this fight since slavery days,” Navy Veteran Marquita Watson said.
Another St. Louis resident, Sydney Tobar, said, “Obviously people are getting frustrated because they want their voices to be heard. They’re trying and nothings happening, and that’s when things turn violent.”