FBI Las Vegas launches campaign
LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – “Protecting our communities together”. Drivers on Interstate 15 may have spotted the phrase on the new notice boards at the FBI Field Office in Las Vegas. The posts are part of a national office effort to encourage reporting of hate crimes.
While Nevada law aligns with federal regulations for protections based on sex, gender, race, or ethnicity, the FBI is the lead agency for violations of federal law.
Hieu Le, 24, is an American student of Vietnamese descent who grew up in Las Vegas.
“I saw someone shouting into a megaphone saying, ‘This is the Republic of China,’” Le said of a recent incident near the Nevada Legislature in Carson City. Capitol Hill police found the person responsible and kicked him out of the area, Le said.
In another incident, Le said he was at a Clark County School District Board meeting when a man shouted a similar remark.
“Nobody wants to report it,” Le said. “They don’t want to create a problem. No one wants to be a problem with the situation.
New FBI data shows that 70% of hate crimes in Nevada involved a person’s race, ethnicity or ancestry. The percentage is slightly higher than the national figure of around 62%.
More than half of all reported hate crimes involve bullying, not actual violent action, according to national data. The FBI views hate crime as a mathematical equation: A crime plus motivational bias, like one’s race, equates to a hate-related incident.
Le, who works with students from the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, said his culture says keep going.
“We always tend to ‘keep our heads down’, ‘say nothing’ and move on,” Le said.
But moving on means that many suspected hate crime incidents in Nevada and the United States go unreported. For a state of more than 3 million people, the Nevada Police Department reported a total of 113 hate crimes for 2020.
“They cannot escape justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Aaron Rouse, head of the FBI’s Las Vegas bureau. “The FBI will always be there.
Rouse said he hoped more people would come forward knowing the FBI has the resources to work with local and state agencies to hold offenders accountable.
“No one should ever accept that hate crimes are a part of life,” Rouse said. “It’s never a sign of weakness to say we have a problem. It is a sign of weakness to ignore it.
Le said he hoped that more could be done in a world where, unfortunately, hatred exists.
“Our problems are something to hear about,” Le said. “And our problems also need to be reported.”
A change in Nevada state law that went into effect last Friday stated that the hate crime perpetrator and the victim can now be of the same race, same sex, same sexual orientation, etc.
Hate crimes can be reported to Metro Police, through the FBI at 800-CALL-FBI, or on the FBI website.