Anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in Tacoma reach 10-year high

Tacoma Police reported a staggering increase in hate crimes last year, particularly targeting the LGBTQ community.

Police investigated more than 30 incidents in 2023.

Authorities attribute the surge, in part, to a rash of Pride flag thefts in June 2023, primarily in the Stadium and Proctor neighborhoods.

National trends indicate that extremists engage in online challenges to burn and desecrate rainbow-colored symbols of support, exacerbating the situation locally.

"It's disturbing, and it's not surprising," said Tacoma-raised Matthew Wilson reacting to the news. "This is a battle that we've been going through for quite a while."

Wilson is the executive director of Oasis, Pierce County’s sole drop-in center for LGBTQ youth. The center in Tacoma provides a litany of services for hundreds of local kids and young adults, among them advocacy services for someone going through a hate crime. Oasis assists victims in navigating through police and the courts.

"I think things are very underreported, because the process of following the system for reporting and helping prosecutors is long and arduous," said Wilson. "Takes a lot of bravery."

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As the community confronts these challenges, Matthew believes the acceptance of transgender youth remains a significant hurdle. He noted a surge in legislative efforts aimed at restricting their rights, which he believes has emboldened perpetrators.