Some motivated to find solutions as reports of hate crime spike

SEATTLE - Amina Ibrahim says as a Muslim she hasn’t personally been targeted but she says there is no question hate crimes are up.

“I’ve heard incidences of people using slurs at people wearing hijabs, physically pushing them and throwing things at them because they are Muslim,” Ibrahim said.

New FBI data shows that nationwide hate crimes went up by 17 percent across the country in 2017.

CAIR says in Washington state that number went up by 32 percent. When you look at Seattle numbers, the cases nearly doubled from 118 to 234 from 2016 to 2017.

“When you have an incident of hate crime and no one does anything about it, you feel more isolated, even more scared,” Ibrahim said.

That's where the bystander intervention training can help. Ibrahim is interning with Cair, the organization behind the workshops.

“We've had an amazing turnout,” McKenna Lux of CAIR said.

Lux is one of the instructors she says so many people are coming to their workshops that CAIR is now holds the training every month teaching people how to support someone being harassed or affected by a hate crime.

“It can be encouraging words and letting them know that it's happening and asking if they want to go somewhere else,” Lux said.

Lux says people should not engage the attacker because the goal is to deescalate the situation.

When you cannot control the hateful rhetoric for people trying to make a difference it’s about changing the response.

“We don’t accept hate crimes in this country,” Joseph Schoken said.

Schoken, a Seattle banker, was motivated to find solutions when his Jewish Community Center in Mercer Island was bombarded with bomb threats.

“It is scary, it is emotionally destabilizing,” Schoken said.

For Shocken the solution was to change federal law and getting Rep. Derek Kilmer on his side.

“We worked really close together he had to find a Republican co-sponsor which he did,” Schoken said.

The Seattleite's efforts expanded federal hate crime laws, with President Trump signing it into law last month.

Now anyone who calls in a threat to a religiously affiliated institution faces a felony and serious jail time instead of just a misdemeanor.

“It is a terrific feeling to have had this experience to have improved the federal laws to protect all community institutions,” Schoken said.

But that victory is tempered by disappointment that hate crimes continue to go up especially in Seattle.

“The answer here is if you hear something say something,” Schoken said.