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Multnomah County DA launches public dashboard tracking bias crimes

District Attorney Mike Schmidt said the dashboard validates what community members are experiencing and lets them know law enforcement supports them.

PORTLAND, Ore. — In 2021, a Southeast Portland convenience store clerk, who is Muslim and emigrated from Afghanistan, recorded a man hurling anti-Muslim slurs at him. 

The attack was shocking to many — but for others it's a regular occurrence. 

"For this community, for the Muslim community, it's a reality," Musse Olol said.

The reality of bias crimes disturbs Olol, of the Muslim Advisory Council, and he is not alone. Bias crimes, whether they are connected to race, religion, or sexual orientation, do not sit well with the Multnomah County District Attorney.

"These are the types of crimes that tear at the fabrics of entire communities," DA Mike Schmidt said.

This week, Schmidt's office launched a bias crimes dashboard tracking hate crimes in Multnomah County. The dashboard indicates that between July 2019 and January 2022 there were more than 115 bias crimes in the county. There were a total of 202 victims. 

RELATED: Oregon bias crime hotline set to increase staff after receiving $2 million in new state funding

"Having this on a comprehensive dashboard we track allows us to first and foremost validate that people are not alone, that we're prioritizing these sorts of cases, that we believe the people coming forward," Schmidt said. "Second, it tells us, 'Hey, is this an issue in our community?' We see that it is and then what do we do about that."

"We see that there are bias crimes happening to the LGBTQ community," said Nancy Haque of Basic Rights Oregon, a nonprofit that fights for equality for all LGBTQ Oregonians. 

Haque is happy to see the county's bias crime statistics, including demographics and incident locations, reflected on a dashboard accessible to the public.

"People don't understand the risks LGBTQ people feel, the risk LGBTQ people of color feel walking through Portland," Haque said. "I think it really matters for us to say, 'Here are the numbers.'"

It is a sentiment echoed by Olol. He said incidents like the one at the Southeast Portland convenience store are not uncommon, but hopefully they will become less common with the addition of the bias crime dashboard.

"This creates transparency that we know the DA is actually prosecuting and we know what's the outcome as well," Olol said. "It's really building trust."

RELATED: Oregon man charged with federal hate crime for targeting a man on Grindr and brutally beating him

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