Westport holds forum on hate crime following uptick in reported incidents

The goal is to make people feel more informed about hate crime laws and how the legal system works.

News 12 Staff

Mar 29, 2023, 2:19 AM

Updated 421 days ago

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Days after the Anti-Defamation League reported startling new records in antisemitic incidents in Connecticut, the FBI has released its stats on hate crime.
Federal, state and local law enforcement gathered for a public forum entitled unite against hate.
"That is the message we want to send here today, we are all here working together for the betterment of our communities," said Chief Foti Koskinas, with the Westport Police Department.
The goal is to make people feel more informed about hate crime laws and how the legal system works.
"I think the biggest misconception is what actually a hate crime is, we are going to talk about it, talk about why, even if something doesn't rise to a violation of criminal law, it's still important to report it so we can act on it," said Vanessa R. Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut.
A number of community groups say the are feeling more uneasy following an uptick in hate crimes in the town, including Westport Pride.
"I think there's been a real polarization within our society around politics," said Brian McGunagle, founder of Westport Pride.
Organizers of the forum say making people feel they can safely report bias incidents is key.
"Some communities, they may not see law enforcement as very friendly, so they may be victimized and still not come for breakthrough that," Michael Butch, FBI assistant special agent in charge.
The forum comes after incidents where white supremacist flyers and graffiti was found across town.
There are a number of ways to report hate incidents—you can always call 911 but the US District Attorney's Office and the FBI can also be reached by phone and email.


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