I’ve spent the past three months as a member of the Asheville Hotels Association (AHCA) as a part of our work to prevent hate crime and promote community safety.
In the wake of the shooting at the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Charleston, South Carolina, we have seen a growing number of hate crimes across the country.
In Asheville, a city of about 40,000 people, the number of reported hate crimes in the city has risen from four in the first nine months of 2018 to almost 22 in January of 2019, according to the Asheville Police Department.
Many of these incidents involve anti-LGBT bias.
Last month, a transgender woman was shot and killed outside a hotel in the neighborhood.
On Feb. 8, a group of men in masks attacked two women in a restaurant.
In March, a man punched a homeless man in the face outside a downtown coffee shop.
Last week, a homeless person was attacked while sitting outside his house.
In early March, another homeless man was punched and kicked outside his apartment building.
The Asheville Police are investigating the alleged attack on the transgender woman.
There have been three more reported hate-motivated crimes in Asheville in the past week, including a shooting at a homeless shelter.
In this case, a woman who identified herself as a transgender man was shot during a fight outside of a homeless encampment on March 7.
The victim, who did not want to be identified, suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
The incident occurred in front of the shelter, where two men and two women had been fighting, according the Asheville News & Observer.
The women told the News & Presse the men had a gun.
One of the women, who said she had not been to the shelter in several years, was hospitalized in critical condition.
Police are still searching for the suspect, and no arrests have been made.
In addition to the violent acts that have taken place in Asheville during the past month, there has also been an uptick in the number in recent weeks of anti-Muslim hate crimes.
A Muslim woman was attacked on Feb. 11 outside a house party in the South Asheville neighborhood.
She was shot in the abdomen and has since undergone surgery to remove a portion of her lung, according a news release from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Earlier this month, an anti-Islam video was posted online by a group calling itself Islamic Jihad.
The video features footage of an extremist preacher who speaks about the need for violence against infidels and claims that Muslims “hate our way of life.”
The video was made with a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant, according an Asheville Police spokesperson.
In June, a violent hate crime targeting Muslims was reported in the town of Hintonville.
A woman was stabbed in the neck and stomach at a grocery store in the nearby town of Wylie on June 9.
According to the Southern Center for Human Rights, “Muslim-Americans and all Americans should be concerned that attacks like this are happening all over the country.”
There have also been several incidents of hate speech and vandalism targeting mosques, and the recent attacks have been perpetrated by individuals in the area.
Earlier in the month, the city of Asheville announced a plan to improve safety by closing certain public places and adding additional security measures.
The city has already added new patrols, a new security detail and a new “zero tolerance” policy, according TOHS.
The new plan includes an increase in police presence in certain neighborhoods, a ban on wearing masks while in public and the establishment of a special task force to address hate crimes and other hate crimes that occur on city property.
In response to the recent violence, the AHCA announced it would launch a campaign to create safe and welcoming communities.
We have committed to creating a safe and supportive environment for everyone to live, work and worship.
As the city continues to focus on creating an inclusive, welcoming and safe community, we must ensure that our resources are utilized to support those who are experiencing discrimination, including LGBTQ+ communities.
As of Thursday, Feb. 16, 2019, the total number of recorded hate crimes had reached 1,719, including incidents of vandalism and intimidation, according ToHS.
Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ individuals are also on the rise.
On Friday, Feb, 9, a 19-year-old man was arrested after police found him in the parking lot of a hotel after a fight broke out between two men.
The man was charged with first-degree intimidation, second-degree assault and first-level criminal mischief.
In April, a 32-year old woman was charged in the death of a woman at the intersection of State and Main Streets in North Asheville.
A police report stated the woman, who was wearing a mask, was beaten by two men while she was inside her vehicle.
The report also said that she suffered a fractured jaw, broken ribs and a facial injury.
The victims have not been identified.
On Tuesday, March 5, a 30-year y/o