Guest column: It’s National Crime Victims Rights Week
Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2023
Guest column by Freeborn County Crime Victims Crisis Center staff
Hate crimes loom forebodingly over American discourse — grim blemishes on our national identity that remind us all of how far we have left to go. Each year, there are new stories of mass shootings carried out by adherents of hate-fueled ideologies and of smaller acts of bias-based intimidation and violence.
Such acts harm entire communities and instill fear on a massive scale, but it’s imperative to remember that the people most harmed by hate crimes are victims, survivors and their families. Their voices, their stories and their desires for justice cannot be excluded from any conversation about the impact of hate crimes.
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The FBI’s most recent annual report on hate crimes, which covers 2021, shows that over 7,200 hate crimes involving more than 9,000 victims were reported by U.S. law enforcement agencies that year alone. Those victims, survivors and their family members aren’t statistics. They’re real people with voices that need to be heard.
It’s important to note that the numbers listed above are not exhaustive; not every law enforcement agency provides data on bias-motivated incidents to the FBI. Furthermore, not every victim of a hate crime reports it, and not every state classiﬁes hate crimes the same way. In fact, some states don’t even have hate crimes laws on the books at all.
About 65% of reported victims of hate crime in 2021 were targeted because of race, ethnicity or ancestry. In nearly 20% of single-bias incidents, victims were targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender. In about 14% of the crimes, people were targeted because of their religious beliefs, and nearly 2% of people victimized by hate crimes were targeted because of disabilities.
Freeborn County CVCC serves all victims of crime including domestic violence, sexual assault and general crime victims. The total number of victims/survivors in the previous grant year of 2022 were 961, including 480 domestic violence, 436 general crime and 45 sexual assault, and of those individuals 709 were considered new victims/survivors for that grant year.
During National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, we join with many other advocates, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors’ offices, health care professionals and others dedicated to being catalysts for change in our commitment to listen to survivors and honor them by working toward meaningful change.
“For too long, the victims of crime have been the forgotten persons of our criminal justice system,” President Ronald Reagan said when he signed the proclamation establishing the inaugural Crime Victims’ Rights Week in 1981. “Rarely do we give victims the help they need or the attention they deserve.”
While the victims’ rights movement has made great strides since then, there is still much work to be done. Freeborn County Crime Victims Crisis Center provides support and services to all victims of crime in our county and throughout the State of MN. We provide education to community members, service groups, schools, etc. and are available to provide presentations to your organizations.
This year, for National Crime Victims’ Rights week, we commit to engaging with survivors and amplifying their voices as we push for change. If you are a victim of a crime please contact the Freeborn County Crime Victims Crisis for resources Monday – Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. by calling 507-377-5460 or by emailing CVCC0ffice@co.freeborn.mn.us.
Let’s work together to create an environment where survivors are conﬁdent they’ll be heard, believed and supported — and a nation where no one will live in fear of being targeted because of who they are or how they worship.
— Information provided by 2023 National Crime Victims Rights Week Resource Guide and Freeborn County Crime Victims Crisis Center.