“Hate crimes are a felony or violent crime based on prejudice towards a particular group,” explained Sergio Saenz–Rivera, Ph.D. the Understanding Hate Crimes panel hosted by El Paso Community College.
The event was a part of the Building El Paso Strong Talk Series is organized by The Government Discipline department at EPCC as a direct response to the mass shooting that happened in August.
Cesar Salas / Tejano Tribune
John Seymour discussed the statistics behind hate crimes and informed the definition of the issue.
The event happened on Sept. 12 at the Valle Verde cafeteria annex and was filled with both college and high school students that traveled to EPCC to become a part of the discussion.
Hosted by three panelists, Saenz who discussed the politics of hate crimes, John Seymour who discussed the statistics behind hate crimes and James Stepp who went into the alt-right movement.
After the presenters concluded their panels the audience was invited to ask question and become a part of the conversation
While Saenz focused on politics he looked into other subjects as well such as philosophy and the idea of tolerance.
“People of democracy have the solution, and that is let us all be tolerant of each other.
There is a paradox because he is asking you to tolerate what you hate. Are you willing to tolerate the shooter?” asked Saenz as the audience remained silent.
Saenz also delved into other aspects of hate crimes such as the psychology behind then, “this racism is a mental illness, and I saw that in the city of El Paso just recently,” he explained.
He continued explaining the need for mental health care rather than gun control “It’s not the guns, it’s the mind. It’s the mental state of these people.”
Seymour took a look at the data involving hate crimes, specifically those against Hispanics and pointed out a notable increase once Trump took office.
“Hispanics from 1996 to 2017 pretty much went down by 2014. In 2015 as soon as somebody took that ride down the escalator it changed,” stated Seymour referring to Trumps candidacy announcement for the 2016 election.
Seymour went on to explain the severity of the situation noting that more than 1 in 5 victims of hate crimes in America are of Hispanic origin.
“Hispanics are more likely to not report incidents of hate crime, especially in the undocumented population and that is a major point of concern because we really don’t know the amount of Hispanic hate crime,” stated Seymour.
Seymour also touched on the internet’s influence on hate crime explaining that it has enabled the spread of hate speech allowing people like the Walmart shooter to post a manifesto that quickly spread online.
“From 2015 to 2016 the number of reported hate communications, hate incidents rose,” explained Seymour.
While hate speech is rising online some companies have taken action when the government couldn’t. The Council on Foreign Affairs explained that social media companies use algorithms and artificial intelligence to monitor hate speech.
While some speakers and students that that day had different viewpoints and different opinions one thing they had in common is they all wanted to see an end to hate crimes and mass shooting in United States.