Attorney General announces alliance to address hate crimes

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and members of a coalition fighting hate crimes said Monday they have teamed up to try to increase reporting of hate crimes and train law enforcement how to handle and prosecute such cases.

Weiser was joined by representatives of the Anti-Defamation League, the Matthew Shepard Foundation and the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado in announcing the partnership with the Colorado Coalition Against Hate, a group of 18 civil rights and advocacy organizations.

The announcement came less than a week after an annual FBI report showed there were 123 hate crimes reported in Colorado in 2018, a 16% increase over the previous year. The number of hate crimes reported nationally declined slightly.

Weiser urged people to err on the side of reporting bias-motivated incidents even if they’re not sure a crime was committed and to advise members of the coalition if they don’t want to contact police on their own.

The new collaboration was responsible for bringing together about 30 prosecutors from around the state for training on Friday, said Scott Levin, regional director for the ADL’s Mountain States Region.

It’s estimated that as many as 90% of hate crime victims do not report what happened to them, said Jason Marsden, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. He also pointed out that law enforcement agencies are not required to report hate crimes to the FBI for its annual report.

The announcement of the partnership also follows the recent arrests of one man accused of plotting to bomb a synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado, and another accused of threatening people outside a Denver mosque with what turned out to be a BB gun.

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