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FBI data shows sharp jump in number of Colo. reports

By Shelly Bradbury

The Denver Post

Reported hate crimes in Colorado rose 74% in 2019 compared to 2018, according to data released Monday by the FBI.

The federal agency reported 210 hate crimes in Colorado in 2019, compared to 121 in 2018, a significant year-overyear increase that continues a longer upward trend in reported hate crimes in the state.

Of the Colorado hate crimes reported in 2019, the majority were motivated by race and sexual orientation, according to the FBI’s data, which recorded 117 race-based hate crimes and 47 crimes based on sexual orientation.

Thirty-six crimes motivated by religion were reported, as well as seven based on disabilities and five on gender- identity, according to the FBI.

In November 2019, Pueblo resident Richard Holzer, a self-identified white supremacist, was charged with a federal hate crime after he plotted with undercover FBI agents to blow up the Temple Emmanuel synagogue in Pueblo.

He was arrested before he could carry out his plans, and pleaded guilty in October. Holzer will be sentenced in January.

The spike in Colorado likely reflects both better reporting of hate crimes by local law enforcement and a true increase in the frequency of such crimes, said Jeremy Shaver, senior associate regional director for The Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Region.

He noted the increase in Colorado began around 2015, and said “heightened rhetoric” around hot-button issues such as immigration has created an atmosphere in which some feel emboldened to target others based on their identities.

“That can translate not only into hate speech but also into activity,” he said.

Hate crimes are consistently underreported, Shaver said, and it’s likely more crimes occurred than were recorded in the FBI’s report.

“We think there are likely many more cases than this report indicates, but it’s our best measure of what is happening in Colorado,” he said.

Shelly Bradbury: 303-954-1785, sbradbury@denverpost.com or @shellybradbury

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