JOHNSON, Ark. — Arkansas is one of three states in the country that does not have a hate crime law in place. However, the FBI will provide a free hat crime class to law enforcement and organizations across the state.
The Department of Justice says on its website that “even if a state or territory does not have a hate crimes law, hate crimes can still be reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” The reason why is it’s a federal crime.
Although some hate crime legislation is being discussed right now at the Arkansas Capitol, there is no official law against hate crimes in the state.
RELATED: Senate committee votes down Arkansas hate crimes bill, lawmakers approve scaled-back measure
“Most Arkansans don’t seem to know that Arkansas doesn’t have a hate crime bill, they just assumed that we did,” Joshua Ang Price, President and Co-Founder of Asian American Pacific Islander Democratic Caucus of Arkansas.
Despite this, the FBI wants Arkansans to know that they are still protected against these crimes.
“A crime committed against an individual because of their race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” said William Kennedy, FBI Special Agent.
The FBI is offering a one-hour session class to anyone to explain procedures and policies of reporting a hate crime.
“Anybody, any group, any organization can contact us and request that we come out and host this training,” Kennedy said.
He added that the goal is to educate, “To educate the public on what is and what is not a hate crime.”
There's been a recent uptick in violent crimes against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country, according to CBS News. Including Bentonville Fire Captain Benjamin Snodgrass accused of assaulting an Asian-American man in Hot Springs. Officials say it is important that Arkansans know how and where to report if they think they’re a victim or know someone who may be a victim.
Price says, “People aren’t reporting these things and it’s not being tracked. How do we know how often it’s happening? How do we know who it’s happening to?”
The FBI plans to offer the class for however long it is needed.
To sign up for a class call (501)-221-9100