In the two years since the 2016 election, reports of hate speech and bias incidents have been plentiful. Anxiety is high, particularly in communities that are targets of attacks. In Berkeley, political tensions and anger played out in the streets in 2017, in the form of bloody brawls between the far right, including some white supremacist groups, and far-left anti-fascists.
Beyond the high-profile protests, Berkeleyside has also covered recent hate crimes and incidents in our city. In June, a white woman told a multiracial group to “get out of Berkeley” and attacked two of its members, and a man turned himself in after an attack on a cyclist that’s been charged as a hate crime. Last November, a man reportedly hit a Street Spirit vendor who tried to interfere in a hate-speech incident in the Elmwood, and a month earlier, a man burned a rainbow flag and punched a volunteer at a LGBTQ center in Berkeley. Also in the fall of 2017, Berkeley High was shaken by the discovery of a student-run Instagram account spreading racist, anti-Semitic and ableist memes.
In spite of these disparate reports, and a common perception that they’ve increased, comprehensive data on hate crimes and harassment is lacking, locally and nationally. When local incidents occur, agencies are not required to report them to the federal government, and many events go unreported to the police in the first place. Amid all the rhetoric, misinformation and political polarization, it’s a challenge to figure out what’s really going on.
Berkeleyside is excited to join dozens of other news outlets, civil-rights groups and universities in Documenting Hate, an effort led by nonprofit investigative newsroom ProPublica to thoroughly track and cover hate crimes and harassment around the United States.
In the nearly two years since the project launched, the investigations conducted by ProPublica and its partners, from The Guardian and The Boston Globe to WNYC, KQED and several local dailies, have been in-depth and wide-ranging. ProPublica explored how a tech company provided extremists with platforms, BuzzFeed News tracked more than 150 campus hate speech incidents, and this month PBS Frontline with ProPublica discovered a member of a white supremacist group working for a defense contractor, with a security clearance.
Documenting Hate is an all-hands-on-deck project involving Berkeleyside reporters and you, our readers. If you have experienced or witnessed an incident you would like to report, you can submit it to the database. Berkeleyside and our partners can then decided whether to verify and cover incidents reported by readers, to shed light on what’s happening in our communities.
Please use the form below to submit an incident. Note that a report here is not a report to law enforcement. You may be contacted by us or another news outlet, but your information will not be shared publicly without your permission.
[If the form doesn’t load here, you can still fill it out.]