HomeAsian AmericansMan charged with hate crimes after attacking Muslim center, synagogues

Man charged with hate crimes after attacking Muslim center, synagogues

Federal authorities charged a Portland, Oregon man with hate crimes after he set fire to a Muslim Center and vandalized two Jewish synagogues.

Michael Edgar Bivins, a former freelance journalist, faces other state charges for his crimes in the spring of 2022, including first degree arson and second degree bias crime, ABC News reported

Bivins “defaced, damaged and destroyed” property at the Muslim Community Center of Portland on May 3, during which he lit the center on fire. 

He also smashed windows at the synagogues Congregation Shir Tikvah and Congregation Beth Israel and vandalized the latter with anti-Jewish graffiti, according to ABC News.

Bivins is charged with damage to religious property and violation of a federally protected activity. 

According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, Bivins’s crimes are part of a statewide increase in reported bias crimes since 2020. The Oregon Department of Justice hotline recorded 1,683 bias crimes in 2021, a 53% increase since the previous year. 

“[Racial violence is] everywhere. It is like a virus that has permeated the state and people are dug in,” Oregon Department of Justice Director of Civil Rights and Social Justice Fay Stetz-Waters told OPB. “There seems to be an active effort to undermine people’s existence and it’s quite disturbing.”

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