This story originally appeared on ProPublica and is republished here with permission as part of the Documenting Hate project, an investigation into underreported hate crimes and bias incidents in America.
It is one of the most striking and curious statistics contained in a recent Bureau of Justice Statistics report on hate crimes in America: 54 percent of the roughly 250,000 people who said they were victimized in recent years chose not to file a formal complaint with the authorities.
The Matthew Shepard Foundation, an advocacy organization based in Colorado that played a role in successfully pushing for national hate crime legislation, has recently tried to better understand the phenomenon. The foundation began asking the Denver residents notifying the organization about being victimized to explain why they did or did not report the incident to the police.
The effort began in February and so far has produced a modest 15 responses — not all of which appear to be crimes. But in a country largely bereft of reliable or probing data on hate crimes, the information collected by the foundation has value.
The foundation, which shared its data as part of our Documenting Hate project, agreed to make public some of the responses to the question on reporting to authorities. The responses are anonymous, but they offer glimpses into the mix of forces at work when victims are deciding what to do: confusion about the definition of hate crimes; skepticism of the commitment by law enforcement to aggressively investigate; fear of retaliation.
“They echo what other organizations…
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