There are, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 1,020 hate groups operating in the United States. Of those, 22 are in Colorado – from the Christian identity group Scriptures for America Worldwide Ministries up north in Laporte to the black nationalist Northern Kingdom Prophets in Pueblo, with several white nationalist, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ groups in between.
In Colorado Springs alone, the number of documented hate crimes jumped nearly 73 percent from 2017 to 2018 – an increase that mirrors trends nationally. The Springs and other cities have seen several attacks, including violent ones, on trans residents. And as recently as this month, 43-year-old Ryan Austin Lee was sentenced to five years in prison for his attack in Denver on two Latino men while shouting racial slurs.
Given the lack of detailed statewide data on those incidents, we are proud to announce The Colorado Independent’s participation in a collaborative reporting project with ProPublica and journalists from more than 170 news organizations across the country to create a national database of hate crimes.
The project, Documenting Hate, gathers and verifies data from victims and witnesses, social media posts, news reports, social justice groups and law enforcement agencies with the goal of creating a national repository of information about hate crimes and trends about who is committing them and whom they are targeting. The database includes incidents investigated by law enforcement as well as those that law enforcers and governmental agencies don’t document because they don’t rise to the level of criminality. It is meant to raise state and local awareness about extremist groups, which often operate undetected in their communities.
There are too many stories for us — or even all news outlets in Colorado — to report. That’s why we hope you’ll participate in this effort. If you’ve been the victim of, witnessed or read about a recent hate crime, please consider filling out this form. Please include your contact information so our reporters may contact you to follow up. The incident may or may not qualify as newsworthy, but in either case will help our news team and reporters statewide and nationally track the prevalence of these incidents.
Please know that this form is not a police report nor a complaint to law enforcement or a government agency. It is for journalistic purposes only — and consistent with our mission of helping to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard.
Like you, our readers, we at The Independent live here, are raising our families here, and are part of several of the communities targeted by extremists and hate incidents. We have as much a stake as you in keeping our state as safe as possible. And we believe in the power of storytelling, of bearing witness and of shining light in the darkest places among us to achieve that goal.
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