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National Origin

CRS supports communities across the United States and its territories as they respond to tension and conflict based on national origin. National origin-based bias is discrimination based on a person’s actual or perceived country or region of origin, ethnicity, or accent. CRS can provide support to communities experiencing national origin conflicts by:

  • Assisting law enforcement professionals, community representatives, city officials, and demonstration organizers to ensure safe and lawful assembly when rallies and demonstrations are planned on national origin issues
  • Bringing together administrators, staff, educators, and students to discuss perceived tensions, alleged incidents of bullying, and alleged hate crimes based on national origin in schools
  • Discussing perceived inequities and alleged bias-based policing against community members of various national origins with law enforcement professionals, community leaders, and all levels of government
  • Facilitating the development of policies and procedures for alleviating community tensions

Below are some recent examples of CRS's work assisting communities experiencing tension and conflict based on actual or perceived national origin. Additional case summaries may be found within CRS’s Annual Reports, located on the CRS Resource Center webpage.

Case Highlights

A local community organization in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, requested CRS services to help address community tensions in the aftermath of an alleged hate crime. Community tensions stemmed from an incident in November 2019 involving a white male suspect who reportedly threw battery acid in the face of a Latino male allegedly due to his race and national origin. CRS met with representatives from the local community organization and a coalition of community organizations to develop strategies to work through differences and defuse conflict in the community.

In December 2019, CRS facilitated a CRS Bias Incidents and Hate Crimes forum for over 100 attendees. The forum provided participants the opportunity to engage in a community dialogue surrounding the incident to de-escalate tensions. Forum panelists, which included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, local elected officials, community leaders from two local organizations, and the victim of a recent hate crime, provided participants with information about hate crimes and hate crime investigation and prosecution processes.

Participants asked the forum panelists questions to gain more insight into and understanding of hate crimes and participated in breakout groups to develop actionable steps to address issues relating to the alleged hate crime and how to prevent future, similar incidents from occurring in their community.

In September 2020, CRS conducted a virtual Bias Incidents and Hate Crimes forum in response to community tension following an alleged hate crime against a Sikh business owner that involved both assault and vandalism.

In April 2020, a white man entered a Lakewood, Colorado, liquor store and began knocking items off the counter and yelling that Sikh business owners did not belong in the country because they were from the Middle East. The perpetrator fled to his car, allegedly running over the business owner when he attempted to record the car’s license plate, leaving the owner hospitalized for a month with extensive injuries. The assailant was charged with a hate crime and attempted murder, in addition to other charges. The community believed the motivation for the attempted murder was due to the victim’s perceived national origin and religion.

Following the incident, CRS began to discuss ways to address the resulting community tension with Colorado Sikh Temple leadership. In July 2020, CRS began facilitating meetings with Sikh and other community members to plan a forum for the Sikh community that would include a hate crimes briefing, information about where and how to report hate crimes, and an update on the pending charges against the assailant.

An audience of 25 community members and federal law enforcement attended the virtual forum, hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado (USAO-CO) and facilitated by CRS. During the forum, presenters shared information on federal, state, and local hate crimes laws, as well as methods to combat and respond to bias incidents and hate crimes. Presenters included representatives of the Denver field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), USAO-CO, Denver County District Attorney’s Office, Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Office/Hate Free Colorado, Sikh Coalition, and an international civil and human rights organization. An FBI field agent also provided interpretation services in Punjabi during the program.

Latino community leaders in Salt Lake County, Utah requested CRS services to address increased community tensions following a November 2018 incident in which three men were attacked with a metal pole while the assailant yelled racial epithets, because he believed the men were Mexican. In February 2019, federal prosecutors indicted the attacker on hate crimes charges.

Following the bias-based attack, Latino business owners and religious leaders alleged that customers regularly harassed Latino business owners based on their national origin or race and that the harassment typically was not reported. Latino business owners, as well as the broader Latino community perceived the local law enforcement’s response as insufficient and were therefore unlikely to report bias-motivated incidents. Members of the Latino community reported that they lacked comprehensive information about how state hate crimes statutes are applied and how public officials, including law enforcement, would respond to attacks against Latinos.

Spurred by the recent attack and the increased tension within the community, Latino community leaders in the county and throughout Utah asked CRS to facilitate dialogues with public officials to gain a better understanding of community safeguards and protections available to address hate crimes targeting the Latino community based on race or national origin.

In July 2019, CRS facilitated a dialogue with Latino community leaders and the local District Attorney’s Office for approximately 30 community members. The district attorney’s office representatives provided information on the definition of a hate crime and how hate crimes, especially hate crimes targeting Latinos, are prosecuted in the county. CRS provided additional information to participants on how the community could address specific conflicts or hate incidents, form working groups, develop a clergy response team, hold a hate crimes forum, or address school-based hate incidents.

The CRS-facilitated session focused on building connections to increase mutual understanding between law enforcement and the Latino community. Community participants spoke about how immigration status and language barriers lead to increased fears and decreased reporting of bias incidents, about hate activity in schools, and strategies to address non-criminal hate activity. The local District Attorney’s Office assured Latino community leaders that county prosecutors would appropriately respond to bias-motivated crimes and provide Latino community leaders with formal and informal access to their office. Following the facilitated session, community members expressed increased confidence in contacting the District Attorney’s office with their concerns regarding bias-motivated crimes.

Lewiston, Maine has a large and growing immigrant population, partially the result of secondary migration from other metropolitan areas in the United States. Recently, conflict has been on the rise between the immigrant population and the white community. Low-level tensions escalated in June 2018 when a fight erupted between white and immigrant residents over claims to Kennedy Park, a local gathering place. Tensions between the two groups simmered for several weeks. The situation culminated in a fight in which a white male died after being struck by a rock. State police believe race played a factor in the fight.

Following the June 2018 incident, the Lewiston chief of police requested CRS services to help ease racial tensions and strengthen community relations. Community leaders and city officials requested a City-Site Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (City-SPIRIT) program for Lewiston and neighboring Auburn to address community tensions. CRS formed a working group and provided the group consultation services to help plan the City-SPIRIT program.

In October 2018, CRS returned to Lewiston to facilitate a community dialogue at Central Maine Community College, jointly convened by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine (USAO-ME) and the Lewiston chief of police for more than a dozen participants to discuss possible ways to address tensions in Lewiston and Auburn, including holding a City-SPIRIT program.

CRS continued providing the working group consultation services while they planned with upcoming City-SPIRIT program. In April 2019, CRS, with external assistance, facilitated the City-SPIRIT program in Lewiston for a diverse group of community members, including civic leaders and faith leaders.

In homogenous groups, participants identified issues impacting their community, including unspoken community tension and the need for more education on Islamic culture and practices. Then, participants re-formed into seven heterogeneous groups to develop solutions unique to their community, intended to reduce conflict, improve communication, and minimize the potential for future tensions. These proposed ideas included increased funding for English as a Second Language (ESL) training, creation of a cross-cultural community center, and cross-cultural events at schools and throughout the community to share different traditions, foods, and languages.

To encourage long-term success of the SPIRIT process, CRS returned to Lewiston and Auburn with the mayor’s support to attend and help facilitate meetings of a group, called the SPIRIT Council. As a step towards preventing future escalations and tensions, the Lewiston chief of police agreed to contact CRS whenever law enforcement make an arrest that could inflame race-based tensions in the city.

Resources for You

School-Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (School-SPIRIT) (PDF)

City-Site Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (City-SPIRIT) (PDF)

Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships (SPCP) (PDF)

Bias Incidents and Hate Crimes Forum (PDF)

Additional Resources and Informational Videos

Updated December 27, 2023