Hate crimes forum scheduled today in Chattanooga

Hate crimes forum scheduled today in Chattanooga

October 20th, 2011 by Yolanda Putman in News

Office of Multicultural Affairs Director Beverly Cosley

Office of Multicultural Affairs Director Beverly Cosley

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.


What: Office of Multicultural Affairs forum on hate crime

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Where: Eastgate Town Center, 5600 Brainerd Road

Nobody likes talking about hate crimes but they do occur, even in Chattanooga, said Office of Multicultural Affairs Director Beverly Cosley.

"Things go under the radar, but we need people to know that because it's under the radar does not mean that these things don't exist," she said.

Cosley's office is joining with the U.S. Department of Justice to host a community forum on hate crime at 5:30 p.m. today.

Panelists include William Killian, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee; Richard Lambert, special agent in charge of the FBI's Knoxville Division; and Walter Atkinson, senior conciliation specialist for the Justice Department's Community Relations Service in Atlanta.

The topic areas are hate crime awareness, prevention and response, said Cosley.

Estelle R. LeClaire said she wished attempts to educate people about hate crimes and tolerance were more effective. The transgender woman said she was harassed for most of the 15 months she lived in Chattanooga until she left April 30. She moved to another city and no longer identifies herself as a transgender woman, but only as a woman.

"I had people threaten me, harass me, and I left in the middle of the night with two police cars escorting me," said LeClaire.

Two hate crimes were committed in Chattanooga in 2009, the most recent year available on the FBI's website. One incident was race-related while the other targeted a person with a disability. There were two race-related incidents in Hamilton County that year, FBI statistics show.

Earlier this year in Chattanooga, three men drove through a predominantly black public housing site, East Lake Courts, yelling racial slurs and throwing fireworks into the windows of homes, police said.

The incident drew attention from the FBI and the local NAACP and the three men, including a Hamilton County EMT, were each charged with civil rights intimidation, Cosley said.

The case is now before the Hamilton County grand jury, which will decide whether to indict the men.