New community task force on hate crimes created - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

New community task force on hate crimes created

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A new Department of Justice Community Task Force on Hate Crimes is coming together in Kansas City.

The formation was announced at a special press conference at 10:30 a.m.

There were 104 hate crimes reported in Missouri last year and most of those came from in Kansas City, and a newly formed federal task force hopes to change the direction of hate crimes in the area.

"Its ultimate goal is to be proactive and decrease the number of hate crimes committed and stop hate crimes before they are committed at all," said Mike Kaste, the FBI special agent in charge.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Attorney's Office, police and members of the community joined to form the Department of Justice Community Task Force on Hate Crimes.

"Until we stamp out all forms of hate crime, whether it's based on race, faith, religion or sexual orientation, we invite the entire community to march with us," said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Tammy Dickinson.

According to FBI data, last year there were 104 hate crimes reported in Missouri and 67 of those happened in Kansas City.

Here's a breakdown on what motivated the hate crimes: 44 incidents were based on race, six on religion, 14 on sexual orientation and three based on ethnicity.

Many might recall the following incidents in the metro area:

In 2008, a couple pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of an African American family by setting fire to their home and painting "White Power" on their driveway. And several years ago, two men shot and killed an African American man who was walking home from work because he was using a public street.

Proving that someone committed a crime is only half the battle said the task force. Proving why is harder.

"Because it's important that police go that one extra step. Not only do we have the right person who committed the crime, but can we prove the motive. If we can prove the motive, then we have a hate crime," Dickinson said.

"It's not only targeting that individual but their community, so that can be twice as painful for that victim," said Jessica Farmer with the KC Anti-Violence Project.

Reported hate crimes have not increased or decreased in the last five years. The numbers are pretty much the same, but this task force says one hate crime is too many and educating the public is one way to move those numbers.

Anyone interested can become a part of the task force. The first conference will start Jan. 13 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus in the student union from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It's free and open to the public.

They ask that people RSVP by Dec. 31 to RSVP-KC@ic.fbi.gov.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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