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Lawyers and Coders Come Together to Tackle Hate Crimes With an App

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on March 06, 2017 2:57 PM

Lawyers, scholars, designers, and coders are coming together to create a new app that will make hate crime reporting easier. The ABA's Center for Innovation will hold a day-long design event in Boston later this month focused on creating an app for victims of hate crimes, providing information on victims' rights, hate crime reporting, and where to turn for help.

The hackathon comes as reports of hate crimes are on the rise, with threats called in to Jewish community centers, two Indian engineers shot at a bar in Kansas, and, last Friday, a Seattle-area Sikh man shot in his driveway by an assailant telling him to "go back to your own country."

Responding to a Surge in Hate Crimes

The design event, to be held at Suffolk University in Boston on March 20th, will bring together legal, tech, and design professionals to create "a mobile app that will allow users to determine whether they are victims of a hate crime and provide them with resources and information to report it," according to the ABA Journal.

"Over the last few months, there have been reports -- as well as anecdotal evidence -- that hate crimes are on the rise and that people are being targeted for their race, religion, and sexuality," according to Janet Jackson, the director of the Center for Innovation. The most recent Hate Crime Statistics report from the FBI, for example, showed a 6.8 percent increase in hate crimes between 2014 and 2015, with a 67 percent spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes during that period.

"We wanted to do something to help those communities so they could report what's going on and get the help they need."

One App for Your Hate Crime Information

The event, which is being sponsored by the Center for Innovation, Suffolk Law, Stanford Law's Legal Design Lab, and CuroLegal, with a $25,000 grant from Cisco, will seek to make identifying and reporting hate crimes easier.

"One of the biggest obstacles for victims is not being able to find all of the information they need in once place," Jackson tells the ABA Journal. "Our hope is that the app will walk victims through how to report a hate crime and what resources are available, locally, to help them. We want something that can be used nationally, but also locally."

The event is invitation-only and currently has about 25 participants signed up, according to the Journal, but room is available for more.

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