HOUSTON (KIAH) Racist hate fliers have increased by 17% in distribution in our region. However, no arrests have been made because it is not a hate crime.
Now community members in Greater Houston Heights have come together to discuss the problem and how to navigate through finding a solution. Residents in the area had questions on arrests and Houston Police was there to answer the tough questions. Due to the 17% increase in local distribution, local representatives and law enforcement are joining together with the public to make a few things clear, including advising the public on exactly how to report such activity in local neighborhoods.
There is a way to respond and there is a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction which doesn’t necessarily work when it comes to assisting law enforcement in finding a solution.City Council member Abbie Kamin said at a Public Safety Town Hall Wednesday evening.
Dena Marks with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was also present to share some awareness and helpful information with Heights residents. The Heights Association was also in attendance.
ADL responds by logging hate incidents and hate crimes, follows extremists through open source information to bring to justice extremists and haters who commit hate crimes. They also work with law enforcement to provide information to the public.
However, even with all the tracking and knowledge of what’s going on with the spread of propaganda information, distribution is not a crime.
ADL representative Marks explained that in order for what racist, hate and propaganda distributors are doing, to be a crime, it must be a criminal act/ Against person or property and the target must have been selected intentionally. It also has to be based on actual or perceived identity.
“Throwing a flier into someone’s yard is not necessarily a criminal act. Law enforcement agencies do want to know about it to know what’s going on in the area. Also, it may foreshadow something worse that’s going to happen,” Marks added.
Even holding signs at an event spreading the message of hate, is not a criminal act due to the First Amendment. However, setting a mosque on fire is arson for instance. That is a criminal act.
If you receive these fliers, it’s important to take pictures of the flier but only to report it to Houston Police by calling (713) 884-3131. You are also asked to report it to ADL by filling out this form on their website. They also shared more tips to keep and your family safe.
At this point, there are no arrests in connection with distribution, but Houston Police Assistant Chief Ban Tien said it’s great to have this important information to apply sources to specific areas. At this point, two organizations have been identified in connection distribution of the fliers.
A man in attendance asked “why don’t you approach the organizations you believe are distributing the fliers?” HPD responded “it’s not a crime.”
Here is the full statement from organizations teaming together to end this…