May 21, 2024

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HRC updated on hate, bias crimes this month

9 min read
Capt. Shawn Adams reported the details of last month's five hate crimes to the Human Rights Commission.

Capt. Shawn Adams reported the details of last month's five hate crimes to the Human Rights Commission.

Capt. Shawn Adams: My name’s Shawn Adams and I’m a captain and I currently oversee our Special Investigations Unit, which is the primary investigative unit for all our bias incidents that occur.

John Q. Murray: Capt. Shawn Adams appeared before the Human Rights Commission Tuesday February 16. He provided details about five recent hate and bias crimes.

Capt. Shawn Adams: We have five incidents over the last month.

We have a criminal trespass that’s identified through our hate bias description as anti-black African-American. An individual who is black, is having individuals come on to his property and steal his belongings. And some things are just moving around. It’s a little, it’s more than a little concerning. Special Investigations Unit has this. As this one currently stands it’s suspended, pending any development of any type of leads into who’s doing this.

Second one, we have a bias crime classified as anti-Hispanic Latino. This is the assault from the Safeway store. That’s the Safeway up on Coburg Road. We have a Comcast employee that identifies as Latino or Hispanic, who was in a parking lot, was confronted by an individual who called him some racial slurs and proceeded to assault him. Pretty egregious event. We do have an arrest in this case with the individual, with some charges. 

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The third one, it’s classified as an anti-Catholic, although I think, in reading the report, it could be encapsulated as really a whole bunch of religions. We had some individuals get on the Grace Lutheran Church on 17th and they were on the roof and along a roof area there spray painted a whole bunch of graffiti. That one again, we’re inactivated on that case pending some investigative leads.

We have a bias crime. Some swastikas were painted on the side of this car.  We have an individual that was working and had this card graffiti-ed and believes a coworker may be responsible for this. We’re doing some follow-up on this investigation through our Special Investigations Unit to try to see if we can identify or get some video, really, to show who committed this crime and then do a little bit more research on this one.

We have a bias crime reported as an assault and it’s classified in the hate group as an anti Hispanic Latino. And this was the individual that was in the Taco Bell drive-thru and had a confrontation with some others who proceeded to assault him while using some racial slurs. This case is being actively investigated by Detective (Dave) Burroughs through the Special Investigations Unit. Right now we’re waiting on video from Taco Bell, trying to get some investigative leads as to who the perpetrators were of this one, and then hold them accountable for those actions kind of thing that we really were any of this, but this one we really. Pretty brazen and assaultive behavior attached to this.

So those are the five that we had reported throughout the past month. And hopefully that’s enough depth for what the commission was looking for. I’m happy to answer any questions.

Commissioner Bonnie Souza:  The assault that you’re working on, was that more than one person that attacked this person? Was it a group?

Capt. Shawn Adams: Yeah, it was a group, I believe three, but let me confirm.  Yeah, so it was the driver of the other car punched him and two other attackers continued to swing at him. It’s a little grainy, but I believe three, at least certainly two.

Commissioner Joel Iboa: Yeah, I’m just curious, Captain Adams. I think a lot of us are talking about anticipating more incidents like this.  Would you say that this year in particular is different than previous years?

Capt. Shawn Adams: Statistically it would appear that we’re almost we’re higher, but not to a statistical huge degree.

But I think, and this is just watching what’s happening with the unrest we see in this country. It’s not a surprise to us that we’re seeing some additional crimes similar reported. And that’s gonna, we see some ebb and flow on this. We saw this after the 2008 elections. We certainly saw it after 16 and we see it now. So they do, these types of events do seem to run a little bit with election cycles, which…I don’t know. I gotta tell you, I’m a little happy that people are reporting. That allows us to investigate and have an impact. I think what we’ve seen with the divide in this country and the things that are occurring, that it’s it’s an unfortunate by-product of some of the things that have happened. So I, if you look across the country, we see a rise of related incidents and we do certainly see a rise of white nationalism, whatever form we would see that, that’s certainly something that we in law enforcement watch very closely.

City Councilor Randy Groves:  Is there any uptick in the chatter amongst the hate groups and you may or may not be able to address that? I certainly respect if you can’t, but that always seems to be a good indicator of where things are heading.

Capt. Shawn Adams: Yeah, Councilor. We’re not seeing an uptick right now in anything as a matter of fact, it’s actually down trended right now. So that’s a promising sign. But like we see, we’ve got to continue to monitor him, watch it right.

City Councilor Randy Groves: Please keep after it.

Capt. Shawn Adams: Yes, sir.

Commissioner Bonnie Souza:  Is EPD aware that among the conspiracies that are swirling is that Trump is actually going to be inaugurated on March 4th. Are you, and there’s at least some faction of the groups that were invaded the Capitol on January 6th that are still, hanging their hats on dates. And so I was just wondering whether or not you were aware of that. And if there will be just, I know that you’re, you’ve prepared for things for a while now.

Capt. Shawn Adams: Yeah, certainly QAnon is pushing that March 4th agenda. We watch everything very closely through the special investigations unit, and we’re also watching through our federal partners and our local partners in the state, as far as what are we seeing nationally? What kind of things can we prepare for? And at the end of the day, we do a decent job, I think, of preparing for things. We can always be better. We can always be improving. And those are some of the things we learned, particularly out of this past summer and so our forecast, our vision is quite a bit further down the road. So we are actively watching for that and we certainly will continue right up until March 4th.

Commissioner Bonnie Souza:  After the insurrection and back to January 6th, again, that and our former president was taken off of Twitter and every other social media accounts there was talk of a lot of supplanting going on that was going on. That was going into places that were encrypted. And I’m just wondering whether or not obviously I’m not asking for details, but I’m just asking. Does law enforcement have a way to get into all of those other ways that people are organizing.

Capt. Shawn Adams: Yeah, we do not.

Commissioner Bonnie Souza: And is that a problem? Is that something you discuss among yourselves?

Capt. Shawn Adams: Absolutely. It’s a problem. But what we see is , there’s a couple of prevailing things here. There’s some privacy issues that may come into play that we as law enforcement cannot access. And so we have to be cautious about how we trend or step in some of these things. And the other piece is these groups are very wise on how they will, all these groups, on how they’ll communicate. And so if they pick out that we’re actually figuring out where they’re at on one site, then they’ll move to another ,and they’re constantly moving. It’s a very difficult thing for law enforcement to stay on top of it.

The nice thing is we have within our office, we have an Intel analyst that watches these things. Full-time job is to support special investigations in the department so we really have some pretty good information sharing and been dynamite throughout this year, just identifying things ahead of time and yeah. We’re getting some information from other entities and we do share also information that we may have locally, that we may hear about, that we’ll share with our federal partners as well. But no, we can not get to all of it. Unfortunately.

Commissioner Heather Sielicki:  I just wanted to say, I appreciate getting this information and I’m wondering outside of this meeting and the annual report, is there any other place that this information is distributed?

Capt. Shawn Adams: In this type of detail, to my knowledge, no.  We do some annual reporting. However, this kind of detail. No, we do not.

Fabio Andrade, City of Eugene: We don’t do that publicly based on protecting the victims. In some cases, people do publish that information on Facebook and other social media.  At HRNI we communicate with neighborhood associations when you see a trend of stuff happening in some neighborhoods, but we don’t do that publicly. So as to protect the victims,

So just to add a little bit more information, the numbers that the EPD liaison brings every month, will not match what you hear in the community.  Sometimes we have cases that are very well known in the community, but the victims do not want to report it to EPD. In other situations, the case happened outside EPD’s jurisdiction. We had a case recently that involved the same family being targeted multiple times. And that case is within Lane County’s jurisdiction, so the report is not taken by EPD. So, just so you are aware, sometimes what you hear in the EPD reports will not match what is happening in the community, for many reasons.

Commissioner Ibrahim Coulibaly:  In the past, the report for hate and bias crime emphasized there was a hotspot around the University of Oregon and we have a lot of international students in that area. So my question is about the interpretation services that EPD uses.

Capt. Shawn Adams: Great question, Commissioner. So in the field, when we’re communicating with individuals, we use a telephone service and I apologize, I don’t remember the name, but we use a telephone service where we will call in and we’ll have a negotiator or an interpreter for all different languages. And we put our phone on speaker phone, and then we can talk to our interpreter who will then in fact, talk to the non -native English speaker, which I’ve had vast experience in this. And it works very well, unless you, at midnight on a 12 o’clock, you need to find somebody that speaks Chuk. That was a little difficult. Those services are great.

Secondarily, through our public information office, you’ll see some information go out. We now are pushing a lot of our information out as much as we can in Spanish. And so we do run some interpretation services and I don’t know what are our PIO is using, as far as how we do that. But those are the two things that we do. And, we got a pretty good mix of different languages that are spoken within the Eugene Police Department.

Commissioner Amanda McCluskey (HRC Chair): Thank you, Fabio, and thank you, Captain Adams. This has been very informative. I really appreciate the extra information.

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