Woman tells of need to combat hate

YOUNGSTOWN — After retiring as a special agent of the FBI with over 22 years of service, Cynthia Deitle now speaks nationwide on ways communities can combat hate crimes with the Jewish faith, the religion that faces the most crimes against its members.

Deitle, who is program and operations director with the Matthew Shepard Foundation, said the race that faces the most hate crimes are African-Americans and the LGBT community.

Deitle was the keynote speaker Thursday at the annual dinner of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation held at the Jewish Community Center. She explained how many of her cases have dealt with anti-Semitism.

“Jews are the most victimized religious community from hate crimes,” Deitle said.

One recent incident was the shooting last fall at a synagogue in Pittsburgh where several of the Jewish faith were killed by an armed man who entered the building and opened fire.

While with the FBI, Deitle served as the lead investigative agent for many high-profile police brutality investigations and also investigated a significant number of hate crimes.

“I tell people to look at ways to stop hate crimes and teach about the horrors of hate. Each person can ask themselves ‘What Can I Do?’ There are ways to chip away at hate crimes. Get to the young people in our schools. Teach people of all ages the horrible effects of hate,” Deitle said.

News reports detail that hate crimes in the United States increased from 5,000 reported in 2015 to more than 7,000 in 2018.

Deitle said today’s Internet and social media allow people to post hate speech online in their home about someone 6,000 miles away.

“Years ago when someone hated someone, they said it to their face. Now they say it online with anonymity,” she said.

Deitle told the story of Matthew Shepard, who was the victim of a hate crime 20 years ago. Shepard was a gay American student who was beaten, tortured and left to die near Laramie, Wyo., in October 1998.

“(It) changed many of our laws. It is a powerful story I share wherever I go.,” Deitle said.

She said she tries to engage her audiences to think of what they can do to stop hate crimes.

“I have not seen a community that has not been impacted by hate. I think the difference is how does the community deal with it today. Do the communities acknowledge it, while others ignore it? Do people come together?,” Deitle said.

Andy Lipkin, executive vice president of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, said, “All of the shootings that happen in places of worship, schools and businesses are tragedies, and a lot of it is motivated by hate.”

Lipkin said he hopes the event helps spark awareness.

“This is an opportunity for us to highlight what we do and what are involvement in the community is. We are thrilled to be able to do what we do to help make the community better. No just the Jewish community but the entire community,” Lipkin said.

Bonnie Burdman. director of community relations / government affairs for Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, said the goal of the gathering was to foster a greater understanding of hate crimes.

“It is important to fight against hate. We hear what has happened, and we need to continue to educate the public as to why we have to fight against hate,” Burdman said.