It was four years ago but Emily Veiga is still feeling its vicious effects.

In 2014, she worked at a home for autistic children in Boston and was on the late shift. It wasn’t until 11 at night when she left to go home and found her car smashed in and racial slurs scrawled with paint across the doors. She was shocked, but not surprised. She had seen similar acts of hate happen to others in her family. Veiga didn’t report it because she didn’t think anything would happen. And it’s that attitude that makes her not surprised about recent data released by the FBI that says 427 hate crimes were reported in Massachusetts last year alone.

“That angers me,” she said, “because it shows that still, no one cares.”

In 2017, of the 427 hate crimes reported in Massachusetts, 232 were related to race, ethnicity or ancestry and 79 of those reports occurred in Boston, according to “Hate Crime Statistics, 2017,” released Nov. 13, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The number of hate crimes that occurred increased by 9 percent in comparison to 2016’s findings. Law enforcement have been reporting these incidents to the FBI as they become more frequent.

“I think that there’s better education surrounding [hate crimes],” said Kami Chavis, a Harvard Law graduate and criminal justice professor at Wake Forest University who primarily focuses on racial crimes. “In 2009, President Obama signed into law the Federal Hate Crimes Act, but I think we have to explore the possibility that more of these crimes are happening.” Chavis continued, “… and I think that leads us to the question of what’s happening between our broader culture that makes Massachusetts or in this case, our country, fertile grounds for these types of crimes.”

During the summer of 2017, the New England Holocaust Memorial, located in Boston, was vandalized twice. Both times, a teenager threw a rock at the memorial’s glass panels, causing it to shatter. Police charged the 17-year-old responsible with a hate crime.

The following September, a Brockton student was removed from, Plouffe Academy, a middle school, after drawing a swastika and writing a message that advocated for Hitler on a student’s desk, according to the Boston Globe.

More famously, last May, a heckler at Fenway Park yelled racist remarks and threw a bag of peanuts at Baltimore Orioles player Adam Jones during an evening game against the Red Sox. The incident caught nationwide attention has since sparked the recurring conversation that Boston is one of the most racist cities in America.

Though police departments are doing better in reporting hate crimes, Chavis believes it all depends on how a hate crime is defined.

“You really have to peel back some layers because first of all, what we’re really saying is not that the crimes have increased but that the reporting of those crimes has increased,” said Chavis. “Because depending on how you define a hate crime, it could be happening, but are we capturing all of the crimes that happened? So, a lot of the times, people believe these crimes are actually underreported.”

Hate crimes against people of color and those of a certain religious belief continue to rise at an alarming rate. The Anti-Defamation League in Boston reports that hate crimes have had a 17 percent increase across the nation while 37 percent of hate crimes target Jews and Jewish institutions.

On March 23, 2017, an Israeli teenager was arrested after it was discovered he was behind thousands of bomb threats that were sent to Jewish community centers around the United States.

Later that fall, a white student from Cornell University was charged with a hate crime after calling a Black student a racial slur and punching him in the face, according to the New York Times.

“These are warning signs that crimes continue to be directed towards people of color, predominately because of their skin color and also Jews and other religions,” said Robert Trestan, director of the Anti-Defamation League in Boston. “There’s a lot of people that are being targeted because of who they are. These are just the number of crimes. Many people face bias in their life every day […] and many, many, many of the incidents don’t rise to a level of a crime, but people are still impacted by hate and bias.”

Trestan believes police departments should be encouraged to post these incidents in real time on their websites. “If we want to raise awareness and we want people to have a real-time sense of what is going on in their communities, ideally police departments are putting information about hate crimes on their websites throughout the year and we don’t have to rely on FBI reports that comes out 10 months later,” he said.

As hate crimes continue to increase against people of the color and those of Jewish belief in Boston, many administrations, including the Lawyers of Civil Rights, Black Lives Matter: Boston, Violence in Boston and the Attorney General’s office, are working hard to decrease these incidents of hate.

“State and local law enforcement must be visible leaders in addressing hate and bias-based incidents affecting our communities,” said Attorney General Maura Healy in an email. “My office is working with our partners in law enforcement to strengthen efforts to fight the rise in extremist violence and the targeting of vulnerable communities that we have seen all too frequently across this country.”

The Attorney General’s office has been following up and will continue to do so on reports that come into their hotline, which launched in 2016 for Massachusetts residents to report hate and bias-motivated incidents. Though calls to the hotline have significantly decreased within the past seven months, it continues to be a resource for those who are victims of a racially motivated hate crime or harassment.

The Attorney General’s office team of attorneys, paralegals, and investigators continue to actively conduct investigations and work with schools and local police to make sure they address these incidents appropriately.

Local civil rights advocates and community activists are also working to diminish hate crimes in the city.

Amid the pain and trauma caused by the flurry of hate crimes, Boston resident and community organizer, James Mackey, is working alongside his incarcerated brother Rickey McGee, who now goes by Fu-Quan, to create the #KnowYourSmoke campaign, which works internally with Mackey’s organization, #StuckOnReplay, a movement that focuses on justice reform.

“Smoke” known in the streets as a beef or rivalry, is the forefront of the campaign and stands for: The Severity, the Marginalized, the Obstacles, the Key, and Engagement.

Mackey and McGee are striving to create a coalition out of the #KnowYourSmoke campaign, which will “specifically work around the racial, social and economic issues as it relates to black people in Massachusetts.” Mackey is currently working with legislators and members of the Black and Latino Caucus on Beacon Hill.

Eventually, Mackey would like to get the attention of Attorney General Maura Healey, with the goal of “[tackling] this racial issue amongst Black people as it pertains to laws, policies, and practices, with institutionalized racism that’s embedded and ingrained into the fabric numerous policies and the fundamental structures of numerous institutions.”

With leaders like Mackey and organizations like the Anti-Defamation League doing what is necessary to combat hate crimes, residents of Boston hope that the number of hate crime victims will decrease and in return open space for at once victims to be recognized for their needed services toward their respective communities.

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