Hate Crimes | St. Louis Public Radio

Hate Crimes

Multiple armed guards patrol outside New Northside Missionary Baptist Church in Jennings during Sunday service. Jan. 12, 2020
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

New Northside Missionary Baptist Church — a predominantly black Jennings church — is a welcoming space on the inside. 

But on the outside, it’s fortified.

Armed security guards monitor the perimeter from the church’s parking lot, while there are several security cameras along the building's exterior.

Fellowship of Wildwood, a baptist church in west St. Louis County, allows certain trained congregants to carry weapons. Church leaders say their volunteer security team helps provide peace of mind to the congregation.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s hard to tell who has a gun at Fellowship of Wildwood church, unless you’re really looking.

The men stand silently at the edge of the crowd, as worshippers shrug off their heavy winter coats and sip from paper coffee cups before the Sunday service. 

Nicknamed the “sheepdog ministry,” the group of about a dozen volunteers provide armed protection for churchgoers at Fellowship of Wildwood.

Attacks on religious spaces have become a troubling new reality, leaving congregations to grapple with how to respond. While some train congregants or hire armed guards, other faith leaders in St. Louis have resisted the idea of allowing guns inside houses of worship. 

Protesters hold LGBTQ pride flags at a Rainbow Workers' Alliance rally.
Andrea Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

Nationally, the number of reported hate crimes remained fairly stagnant in 2018 compared to the year before, but Missouri saw a 39% reduction. 

According to the FBI, there were more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies participating in the Hate Crime Statistics Program in 2018, but only about 12% reported incidents. The other 87% reported that no hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions. Agencies participate on a voluntary basis and provide one to 12 months of data. 

David Cunningham, a professor of sociology at Washington University, discussed the recent slowdown in the growth of hate groups in the U.S. as well as the concurrent increase in the number of hate crimes occurring in the country since November 2016.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Nearly doubling since 1999, the long-growing number of hate groups active within the United States has remained nearly static since the election of President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the number of hate crimes is rising, and at first glance the two concurrent trends might seem contradictory.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked to Washington University sociologist David Cunningham to help make sense of the data.

Hate crimes rose in 2016, declined in Missouri

Nov 15, 2017
Crews with Rosenbloom Monuments Company lift headstones back onto their bases in February, 2017.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The number of hate crimes reported in the United States rose for the second year in a row, according to an FBI report released on Monday.

Law-enforcement agencies reported more than 6,100 hate crimes in 2016, about a 5 percent increase from the previous year. Jews and Muslims were most likely to be targeted, and more than half of all reports were motivated by either race or ethnicity.

Missouri reported 88 hate crimes last year, down from 100 in 2015. Illinois reported 111 hate crimes in 2016, up from 90 the previous year. Some observers say many hate crimes likely go unreported by authorities and victims.

Documenting Hate logo
Provided / ProPublica

St. Louis Public Radio is partnering with ProPublica and other newsrooms across the country to track hate crimes and bias-motivated incidents throughout the region — and we need your help.

Have you been the victim of a hate crime or harassment based on your race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation? Or, have you been a witness?

Karen Aroesty is the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the weeks after the presidential election, the Southern Poverty Law Center collected reports of more than 1,000 hate-related incidents from across the United States. Fifteen of those incidents happened in Missouri. In the St. Louis region, local reports detailed verbal taunts and harassment based on the victim’s perceived race or religion. Many people might conflate hate incidents with hate crimes, but most reports following Nov.

Protesters are greeted by lines of state and county police during a demonstration march on the Ferguson police station on August 11, 2014.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The St. Louis office of the FBI says it is investigating two assaults that occurred last month as potential hate crimes. In both cases, assailants mentioned Ferguson during the attack.

The FBI is investigating possible hate crimes in St. Louis after a woman was assaulted last week by three teens near Bevo Mill allegedly because she is Bosnian.

Courtesy Not In Our Town

Documentary filmmaker Patrice O’Neill has been working to prevent hate crimes for almost 20 years. The tools of her trade: films and community outreach. When her nonprofit The Working Group produced “Not in Our Town” for PBS in 1995, the response sparked a movement that continues to expand today.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 25, 2012 - President Obama and the Justice Department may have trouble finding legal authority to prosecute George Zimmerman even if the facts indicate that the killing of Trayvon Martin was unjustified, legal experts say.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 29, 2011 - Dr. Ghazala Hayat recalls well the climate after the terrorist attacks nearly a decade ago.

"I would say for sure, all over the country since 9/11, it's gotten worse," said Hayat, who chairs the public relations committee of the Islamic Foundation of St. Louis. "There's no question."

Strategy is the key to prosecuting hate crimes

Jun 3, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 3, 2010 - When hate crimes laws first started making their way onto the books 30 to 40 years ago, they generated dire predictions of log-jammed legal dockets.

"There was this fear there would be an opening of the floodgates, and hundreds and hundreds of them would clog the system," remembered Karen Aroesty, regional director of the American Defamation League (ADL).

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 26, 2010 - It was supposed to be one of the most memorable days of his young life. And in fact Richard "Ricky" Kalina's bar mitzvah certainly was that, but not in the way he, or his parents, or any of the guests had envisioned.

On the day that in the Jewish religion signifies Ricky's passage from boyhood to manhood, the 13-year-old was forced to deal with a tragedy of life-changing proportion. It left one family friend dead, two others wounded and a neo-Nazi serial killer on the loose.

The state of hate: The changing face of hate crimes -- and victims

May 25, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 25, 2010 - Earlier this month, two brothers from Cape Girardeau were charged with a felony hate crime after allegedly attacking a black man at a convenience store, yelling racial slurs at the victim and assaulting him in a parking lot.

Frequently asked questions about hate crimes

May 20, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 20, 2010 -  What is a hate crime?

A hate crime, also known as a bias crime, is a criminal offense committed against a person, property or group that is motivated by the offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or national origin, according to the FBI.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 6, 2010 - In a time of heightened security and concern over terrorism and other violent acts, how can houses of worship preserve their main mission of being accessible and welcoming without leaving themselves open to harm?

One of the answers that emerged from a conference at Missouri Baptist University Thursday comes down to this: The Lord will help those that help themselves.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 8, 2009 - U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Springfield and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, today announced that he will vote against this year's National Defense Authorization Bill "because it contains controversial and unconstitutional 'hate crimes' policy completely unrelated to the defense of the country."

Blunt noted that it's the first time he has ever voted against a defense-authorization bill. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 30, 2009 -  Two of Missouri's members of Congress -- Reps. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, and Roy Blunt, R-Strafford -- offer prime examples of the passionate opposing views regarding the hate-crime bill approved this week by the U.S. House.

Clay cosponsored the measure, which passed 249 – 175. He says it simply extends existing hate-crime protections to victims of crimes "motivated by gender, sexual orientation and disability."