Chattanooga invites locals to report hate speech incidents online

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Mayor Andy Berke speaks during a Council Against Hate meeting at The Camp House on Monday, July 15, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Chattanooga residents can add their voices to the fight against hate speech through the city's partnership with Hatebase, a project that crowdsources, catalogues, and tracks hate speech in real time.

"It's basically an early warning system that helps identify situations of concern and allows the organization to inform and empower communities to implement preventative measures and stop mass violence before it begins," said Kerry Hayes, deputy chief of staff to Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.

On the city's Council Against Hate website, residents can submit sightings or incidents of hate speech they experience or witness. The city pulls this data nightly from Hatebase and adds it to a dataset used to monitor hate speech in the community.

(Read more: Mayor Andy Berke's Council Against Hate unveils proposed strategies)

The City of Chattanooga is one of the first local governments that Hatebase has partnered with in the U.S., Hayes said. Hatebase originated from the Sentinel Project, an international nonprofit based out of Toronto that works to prevent genocide and mass atrocities through engagement and cooperation with victimized populations across the globe.

Data gathered from Hatebase supports research at over 275 universities including Harvard, Stanford and Princeton, and their partners include the Anti-Defamation League, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Humanitarian Data Exchange, among others.

"We're hoping to collect this data over the next several years to develop a baseline and better understand hate speech and reduce the likelihood that it graduates from speech to violence in our community," Hayes said.