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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville community, neighbors are on alert, many of them concerned for their families and businesses.
The organization Lawrenceville United says there have been at least 12 separate hate crimes in the last six months, and other troubling propaganda.
KDKA’s Lisa Washington Reports:
“A number of flyers pop up around the neighborhood from white supremacist organizations, in addition to specific acts of vandalism against businesses – some of that was specifically targeted against a Jewish-owned business the night after Tree of Life and included anti-Semitic defacement of property,” said Dave Breingan, the executive director of Lawrenceville United.
In other locations, there are swastikas and KKK symbols. The FBI is keeping residents informed.
“Err on the side of caution for potential hate crime indicators and that’s why we would try to educate so we can receive that information and hopefully prevent something from happening,” said Special Agent Robert Jones.
The FBI held an outreach event following hate crimes reported in Lawrenceville on Monday afternoon. Federal agents were on hand for the community meeting to answer questions and concerns from the residents.
Jones, the special agent in charge, told KDKA that the FBI is investigating 10 hate-crime incidents in Lawrenceville since the summer.
Jones said the incidents go way beyond just rhetoric and free speech. They include actual violent references or threats, which is why they are being investigated.
“It advocates violence and is based on bias against race or ethnicity or national origin, then that is against the law,” Jones said. “If it is just someone voicing their constitutionally protected right to exercise their free speech, that is something that we would not get involved with.”
Jones went on to say that it doesn’t look like the hate is directed at a specific business owner, but it is “speech and rhetoric that would not normally be constitutionally protected.”
The FBI told KDKA that it believes one group is responsible for many of the crimes. It declined to name the group.
Jones says, nationally, hate crimes were up 17 percent from 2016-2017. That’s the last time the data was reported.