'New permissiveness' of hateful speech following election, sociologist says

Many feel hateful incidents have increased

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Many Portland residents who are not white told us they've seen an increase in hateful speech and intimidation on the streets.

“Overall very disturbing,” said Linda George. “It makes people feel unsafe. And now my daughter doesn’t want to go on MAX. She's scared. And that’s just not fair. It’s not right,” she said.

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Sociologist Randy Blazak, the Chair of the Coalition Against Hate Crimes, says statements like those that allegedly came from TriMet stabbing suspect Jeremy Christian before the attack are not new.

“It's certainly safe for gentrifiers, and you know people who want to have five-dollar coffee and those folks. But there are a lot of folks who think that it’s a lie that Portland is this liberal oasis, that Portland’s just as hateful as any other place. It certainly has a history of it,” Blazak said.

Elisa Sanchez experienced it a couple years ago after seeing a Mercedes plow in to a car carrying a Hispanic family.

“Guy in a truck came by yelling racial slurs about how it’s all Mexicans' fault,” she said.

But she also thinks racist language is much more in the open now.

“Terrorism. That’s what it is,” she said.

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Sophia Mhassni agrees the hate is more in the open now.

“I have friends and people that I know yeah that were called names and were followed around,” she said.

Blazak says those who want to intimidate others took a sign from the Presidential campaign and election.

“It hasn’t been caused by this. It’s just been unleashed by this,” Blazak said.

He does not think there are more hate groups in Oregon or more members of those groups.

“I think they've always been there. I think there's just a new permissiveness of this type of speech. People think it’s okay to say this because they have friends in high places,” said Blazak.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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