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Former FBI civil rights chief speaks at local Jewish Federation meeting on hate crimes

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Hate crimes are on the rise throughout the United States, with the Jewish community often affected. At a meeting this week, one of the nation’s leading experts on hate crimes led a discussion with some ideas for solutions.

Cynthia Deitle was the featured speaker at the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation’s annual meeting on Thursday.

Deitle spent 22 years with the FBI, 21 of which dealing with hate crimes. For a while, she was chief of the FBI’s Civil Rights Unit.

“I think there’s ways to chip away at it though… Get it to the young people, get it to the schools, the parents, and teach them just the horrible effects of hatred,” she said.

Bonnie Deutsch Burdman, of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, said she wants to gain a greater understanding on the rise of hate crimes.

Deitle gave a lot of statistics at the meeting. One showed the rise in hate crimes — in 2015, the number was 5,000, 2016 had 6,000 and 2018 had 7,000.

A most recent example of a hate crime was in October, when a man opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

“The most victimized religious community are Jews. The most victimized racial community are African Americans. The most victimized LGBT community are gay men,” Deitle said.

“And it’s important that we hear about that. We’ve opened this up to the community so they understand what’s out there, and really educate people about why we have to fight against hate,” Burdman said.

“I learn every time I go out to talk to people. I learn from them, I hope they learn from me and I hope they take it back to their houses and their communities and their schools and continue the discussion,” Deitle said.

Deitle retired from the FBI two years ago and now works for the Denver-based Mathew Shepard Foundation, which works to erase hatred in the LGBT community.

She gives hate crime training to police agencies and speeches like the one Thursday evening.

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