After two instances of vandalism at a local synagogue, city officials are making clear that the City of Battle Creek has zero tolerance for hate crimes.
Federal hate crime laws prohibit crimes committed because of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The laws also prohibit damage or defacement to religious property, because it is a religious property, or because of the characteristics of the people associated with it.
“Battle Creek is not unique and, to that end, this is our opportunity to take a full stand against hate,” said Police Chief Jim Blocker. “It is a crime that will be fully investigated and enforced.”
Related to the vandalism at the synagogue, Blocker said the second incident appeared to be hateful. However, in sharing the painted message with local, state and federal experts, police say it was not recognized as hateful.
The city has contacted the Anti-Defamation League for support, as well as local and regional leaders. Blocker said outreach and support from the community has been supportive, encouraging, and helpful, assisting police with leads in the synagogue case.
Police continue to pursue leads in the synagogue case, and encourage anyone with information to call the non-emergency line at 269-781-0911 or Silent Observer at 269-964-3888.
According to FBI statistics, in which agencies across the country report on various types of crimes, the number of hate crimes reported in the United States has increased over the last few years.
In 2017, agencies reported 7,106 single-bias incidents, with 58.1 percent motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry, 22 percent by religion, and 15.9 percent by sexual orientation.
In 2016, agencies reported 6,063 incidents, with 57.5 percent motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry, 21 percent by religion, and 17.7 percent by sexual orientation.
In 2015, agencies reported 5,818 incidents, with 56.9 percent motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry, 21.4 percent by religion, and 18.1 percent by sexual orientation.