Prompted by changing demographics and a recent hate crime, the Chattanooga, Tenn. Office of Multicultural Affairs is sponsoring a forum this Thursday on hate crimes. The forum will include presentations from the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Department of Justice Community Relations Service.
Following Racist Incidents, Chattanooga Hosts Hate Crime Forum
Submitted by Nato on October 18, 2011 - 3:06pm
The forum is one of the city's responses to an incident over the July 4 holiday weekend, when three white men drove by a Chattanooga housing project hurling lit fireworks and racial epithets at the predominately African-American residents and their homes. The three men face felony charges for civil rights intimidation. Local and federal law enforcement are reviewing security camera footage to determine whether there should be federal hate crime charges.
The local chapter of the NAACP has called for a federal investigation and sees the firework incident as the latest in a pattern of overt racism in Chattanooga. Recently, a cinderblock with “KKK” written on it was thrown through the window of an interracial couple’s home.
Chattanooga created the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) in recent years as nearby poultry plants, a Volkswagon factory and its supply chain, have turned Chattanooga into an international city. According to the Times Free-Press, recent census data shows that “inside Chattanooga, the white population grew only 0.9% since 2000 and the black population grew 3.8%. But the numbers for two or more races grew 24%, Asians were up 36.6% and Hispanics up 181%.”
OMA Director Beverly Cosley says that now Chattanooga is home to residents born in more than 80 countries. “We wanted to welcome our new internationals, learn about their cultures, and connect them to the range of services they needed,” she said.
In addition to hosting Thursday’s forum on hate crimes and other events, the OMA introduced Chattanooga's first hate crime policy which was approved in 2009 and convenes an Immigration and Refugee Services Provider Roundtable to connect all the different service providers for immigrants.