Tucson group launches network to fight back against hate crimes

Tucson group launches network to fight back against hate crimes

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The YWCA of Southern Arizona is fighting back against hate crimes.

The organization has launched a website where people can make complaints.

Kelly Fryer, CEO of YWCA of Southern Arizona said they have had 20 reports in 17 days. Twelve of those reports came in within the first 10 days of the website's launch.

The Southern Arizona Hate Crimes Task Force has launched the "We Stand Together" network. The YWCA says 48 individuals and 11 businesses have already signed up to be part of the "We Stand Together" network, which means they have agreed to be a safe place for anyone experiencing bias-related harassment or a hate crime.

Hundreds of people showed up to the YWCA of Southern Arizona for the kick off event and community forum on Wednesday night.

Ndekela Sakala was one of the attendees. She said it was encouraging to see just how many people showed up.

"It was really great just to know that there is support for me, there's support for my family, there's support for like everyone who just showed up. And that we're all here for each other and that means a lot to me," Sakala said.

The biggest message at the forum was the importance of speaking up if you're a victim of harassment or bias or you see someone else becoming a victim.

Fryer said not only is the "We Stand Together" movement the first of its kind, the community forum is also the first of its kind.

"We're really taking this we stand together movement and using it as an opportunity for people in Tucson to learn about their neighbors and really be prepared to protect one another," Fryer said.

Speakers led an open discussion about bias and harassment in the community, including step by step points on how to address these comments or actions.

"You feel so much better at the end because you know what you're supposed to be doing to help other people. I think it inspires more a sense of community," Sakala said.

Fryer is encouraging businesses and individuals to sign up to be safe places. You'll get a decal that shows you or your business is a safe place where people can go if they feel threatened.

If you'd like to report an incident of harassment or verbal assault, you can do so HERE: http://bit.ly/2fQpHlM

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