Credit: ProPublica

The Bangor Daily News has joined a nationwide effort led by the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica to document hate crimes, an effort that seeks to address the lack of national data on the proliferation of hate crimes in communities across the country.

Through ProPublica’s Documenting Hate project, the Bangor Daily News will be better equipped to document local incidents of racism and racial bias. The BDN is joining a coalition of 140 news organizations across the country that have signed onto the effort.

The project allows readers to submit stories of hate crimes and discrimination through the BDN’s website, which will aid national and local reporting on the topic. The incidents won’t be shared outside of the coalition of news organizations, nonprofit organizations and universities without permission from the submitter.

Participation in the project will allow the BDN to report on incidents of hate that might otherwise go unnoticed and unreported, and how schools, businesses and governments respond. A Bureau of Justice Statistics report found last year that roughly half of hate crimes are never reported to the police. In a year of reporting on hate crimes, ProPublica also found that local law enforcement vary greatly in how they identify and report hate crimes.

In Maine, it’s impossible to know the full scope of hate-fueled incidents. The BDN in 2016 found that a law requiring schools to report hate crimes and incidents of bias resulted in inconsistent tracking of incidents and no penalties for schools that did not comply.

The recent saga of “ethno-nationalist” Tom Kawczynski, the former town manager in Jackman who was fired after his racist remarks on social media and his online effort to create a “white homeland” in Maine garnered national attention, demonstrated that people with openly hateful ideologies can get by the hiring committee of a local government.

We know there are more of these stories out there, which deserve to be told and, at the very least, counted.

You can submit incident reports to the Bangor Daily News and ProPublica’s Documenting Hate project by using our online submission form below.

Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.