Federal and local law enforcement meet with community to ‘Unite Against Hate’
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - What is a hate crime? How do you report one? And then what happens after you do? Questions the US Attorney’s Office worked to answer Wednesday night.
“Just to make sure that people can feel safe in their communities and not be discriminated against, or attacked or abused based on what they look like, or what they believe,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky Carlton Shier.
Shier said they’ve seen a dramatic increase in hate crime incidents over the last three years and the number of unreported crimes is undoubtedly much higher.
“The vast majority of the cases we get involved in, the origination of the complaint comes from the public. Not the victim, but witnesses and other things,” Shier said.
Those who prosecute these crimes said it’s not just about getting justice for the victim. But every person who identifies like the victim, who fear it could have been them, or that they could be next.
“The experiences of underrepresented people in our community. What they actually experience. I hope this encourages people to report,” said Fayette County Attorney Angela Evans
Evans explained that hate crimes can be prosecuted federally. But here in Kentucky, there is not a statute for it on a state level.
The Fayette Commonwealth Attorney Kimberly Baird said they’d gotten a lot of questions after former UK student Sophia Rosing was charged with assault and public intoxication, rather than a hate crime.
But Baird said in many cases, a judge will still take into account the nature of the crime, and use these factors in determining someone’s sentencing, or eligibility for parole at times.
“Words have power, words have meaning. And sometimes those words can be a crime,” Evans said.
And reporting it can bring an awareness to a crime people don’t always see.
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