“It still affects me until this day”: Hate crime victim, FBI encourage people to report hate crimes

“It still affects me until this day”: Hate crime victim, FBI encourage people to report hate crimes
Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 11:41 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Hate crime numbers in North Central Florida are low compared to the rest of the country but FBI Jacksonville agents believe many hate crimes aren’t being reported. They launched a campaign on Thursday to encourage more people to report any violent crimes against them or their property because of their race, religion and/or identity.

David Trezak said he was in an Ocala bar playing music for guests when he encountered a violent situation he’ll never forget.

“I let it go but it still affects me till this day,” Trezak said.

David Trezak loves embracing his native American roots but back in the 90s, members of what he believed was the klu klux klan attacked him.

“Four very large locals cornered me one evening and grabbed me by the throat and lifted me off the floor,” Trezak recalled.

They spared him, only after he denied being from North Dakota. He was born in Ocala.

“And they let me down,” He said. “They didn’t apologize or anything.”

After the violence, he didn’t go to law enforcement.

“In that area in those days that wouldn’t have been an effective help to me and it would probably be more trouble than it was worth,” Trezak said,

In 2020, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office reported only three hate crimes.

Related story: The FBI office in Jacksonville launches a year-long campaign against hate crimes

In total, five hate crimes were reported in 2019 to ASO and the Gainesville Police Department and two were reported in Marion county, according to the state attorney general’s office.

Public Information Officer for FBI Jacksonville, Amanda Videll, said there are many reasons people don’t report hate crimes.

“We know as investigators when we talk to victims they have a lot of fear about reporting these types of crimes in the first place,” Videll explained. “Most of the time they fear retribution from their attackers if they do come forward.” “We’re dealing with an issue of mistrust by some members of the community in the justice system.”

The FBI is launching a campaign sharing images that say “Protecting our communities, together report hate crime.”

The images and other resources will be posted on social media, billboards and in minority businesses.

Trezak encourages others to report those crimes.

“Be careful who you speak to but speak up because everyone who says they want to help you is not necessarily help you,” Trezak said.

Gainesville resident Marvin Wilson has not experienced a hate crime, but as a black man, is fearful of facing one every day.

“I would say something because that can definitely affect another Black man, another Black woman, a younger child can be affected by that,” Wilson said.

The FBI will also be reaching out to different community groups and nonprofits to spread the word.

“Hoping that they will take this to the victims, to the people they are working with,” Videll said.

Videll added that anyone should report hate crimes, regardless of immigration status. if you are interested in helping them share the word, you can repost their message.

To get involved, email or call (904) 248-7510

To report a hate crime, click here.

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