Idaho Statesman (Boise) June 4, 1993  


Increase in Hate Crime Sets Stage for Campaign

Ada County task force hopes to change attitudes with 'Idaho is Too Great For Hate.'

By Ellen Agler The Idaho Statesman 6/4/93

Reported hate crimes in Idaho have increased by 67 percent over the past year, and the Ada County Human Rights Task Force plans to do something about it.

The task force unveiled its "Idaho is Too Great For Hate" campaign Thursday in response to the hate-crime rise and concern over polarizing issues such as the proposed anti-gay initative.

"Th only way to turn such (prejudicial) perceptions around is to work for positive changes in local attitudes and outsider perceptions of Idaho," Tom Tucker, task force president, said.

Tucker said the tourist season is a good time to begin the campaign. The signature drive for the proposed anti-gay initative kicks into high gear this summer.

The "Too Great For Hate" campaign will raise money for task force projects through the sale of T-shirts, bumper stickers and buttons.

Tucker said he fears the initiative drive may bring an increase in hate crimes against gays.

Reported hate crimes in Idaho rose from 33 to 1991 to 55 in 1992. Anti-gay crimes doubled to 6 in that period. But no such crims had been reported in the first three months of this year.

Reported crimes motivated by anti-black sentiments went from 8 in 1991 to 17 last year. In the first three months of 1993, five hate crimes against blacks were reported.

The jump of reports recorded in 1992 is creditied in part t to greater public awareness and better training for law enforcement officials, said Donna Wood, research analyst for the Idaho Bureau of Criminal Identification.

Task Frce member Bertha Edwards said the data indicate a need for greater education in dealing wth prejudice and racism.

"With education, we will be able to make a difference. If we can change just one attitude on prejudice or racism, it will be an improvement," said Edwards, former president of the Boise chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Idaho Hate-bais Crimes

Hate crimes in Idaho rose 67 percent from 1991 to 1992, according to statistics by the Idaho Bureau of Criminal Identification. Crimes motivated by anti-black and anti-white biases more than dubled in one year, and the number of anti-gay crimes doubled.

Crimes Against:          1991         1992

  Blacks                 8            17
  Whites                 5            11
  Hispanics              8            10
  Religion               2            8
  Gays                   3            6
  Multi-racial*          0            3
  Asians                 2            2
  Arabs                  0            3

* A crime directed toward more than one race. (Alan W. Dye)