The Kansas City Council is weighing the creation of a task force to address hate and bias crimes, including religiously motivated crimes. If the resolution sponsored by fifth district councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw is approved, the task force would organize information, review patterns, and make recommendations to address issues of hate and bias crimes in the metro.
The task force will work as an extension of the Kansas City Human Rights Commission.
Data collected by the Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Department of Kansas City (CREO-KC) reports that 91 bias crimes, commonly known as hate crimes, were reported between January 2020 and January 2022, for an average of over three per month. Data also showed that 44% of those reported crimes involved victims who were African-American.
The crimes were varied, with 44% of Kansas City’s biased crime incidents involving physical violence against the victim including assault, and 29% involving harassment. There were also 15 incidents of property damage.
According to CREO Director Andrea Dorch, often individuals who are victims of incidents or crimes of bias do not come forward due to feelings of trepidation surrounding the issue.
“Normally, you think it’s part of the normal course of life,” Dorch said, “and if it doesn’t arise to something that is violent or property damage, people usually won’t report those things. I think there’s also some hesitancy when you’re talking about reporting incidences that they’re wasting people’s time. That’s absolutely not the case, because no matter how small they may seem, we may see it differently. We’re going to assess every complaint that we get.”
Hate crimes have also been on the rise across the country. The most recent data collected by the FBI shows that of the 8,052 biased crimes recorded nationally, 61.8% of the victims were targeted because of the offender’s race. A report from the U.S Department of Justice stated that hate crimes targeting Black people rose by almost 49% in 2020.
Details on who will make up the task force have not been finalized but Dorch said the task force will include a chairperson and community members representing all Council Districts.
“Those serving (on the taskforce) would be our law enforcement, community members and stakeholders,” Dorch said. “The task force would be charged to come together and move forward on what needs to be done to make proper recommendations to council.”
The resolution to create the task force was held until Sept. 21, when the Finance, Governance, and Public Safety Committee reconvenes.
Individuals who feel they have been targets of bias crimes can report those incidents to CREO KC by visiting, www.kcmo.gov/talk-to-us/mykcmo or calling 816-513-9982.