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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A new website is out for Hoosiers to report hate crimes. The Central Indiana Alliance Against Hate (CIAAH) announced the launch of the new tool at Thursday’s inaugural Indiana Response to Hate Conference.

Leaders behind the new tool said the Tracking Hate Database will become a resource where victims and witnesses of hate-based crimes and incidents involving violence, threats, and bullying can share their experience.

The goal is to educate the public, empower others, strengthen advocacy efforts and show service providers where help is needed.

“Unfortunately, we have seen an escalation, whether or not we have the data to support it, we certainly are seeing it more in the news and more publicized,” said Amy Nelson, the executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, which started the CIAAH project. “I’m certainly hearing more about it when I’m working out in the community.”

Victims and witnesses can access the database here, where they will be asked to confidentially answer a number of questions, such as where the incident occurred and provide a description of the incident.

They will also be asked whether or not the incident has been reported to law enforcement or another agency and to determine what groups were targeted from a list that includes:  Disability, gender identity/expression, gender, race/color, sexual orientation, national origin/immigration status, religion or other.

“The recent hate-based violence in Charlottesville, Va. exemplifies that now more than ever we need to come together as a community to reduce hate and promote love and acceptance by creating resources for responding to hate, and by serving as a network for victims of hate to seek assistance,” said Amy Nelson, executive director at Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana. “There is insufficient hate crime data for Indiana due to the fact that we lack a hate crime law requiring agencies to report these incidents. Therefore, it’s imperative we have a tool for citizens to confidentially document these incidents when they become aware of them or unfortunately experience them firsthand, so we can monitor the depth, scope and occurrences and help improve assistance for victims,” said Nelson.

The Indiana Response to Hate Conference was the first of its kind event featuring national and local anti-hate crimes speakers and authorities, which brought together people committed to combating and addressing hate-based crimes and incidents as well as provided hate crime prevention training.

The CIAAH was formed in March 2017 thanks to a $125,000 “Communities Against Hate” rapid-response grant awarded to Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana from the Open Society Foundations and has grown to include more than 50 nonprofits, organizations, and businesses plus individual members.

Its formation was a response to Indiana being one of only five states in the country, according to the CIAAH, without a hate crimes law, despite Indiana being ranked as the 13th state with the most active hate groups in 2016.

At least one time per week, on average, Hoosiers are targeted for violence or vandalism because of who they are, where they come from, and/or what they believe, according to FBI data.