CINCINNATI — According to the latest statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cincinnati has had the highest number of hate crimes per capita of any city in the state of Ohio.
Local groups and places of worship said they have added cameras and armed guards in order to feel safe doing what the United States Constitution says they have the freedom and right to do.
The FBI statistics show 350 hate crimes statewide in Ohio in 2018, 235 in Kentucky and 111 in Indiana, with Cincinnati ranking in with the highest reported hate crimes per capita.
At the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, Shabana Ahmed said there is a legitimate fear in the community for their freedom to practice their religion safely. The high hate crime rate is hitting home for religious groups, members of the LGBTQ community and other minority groups throughout the Greater Cincinnati area.
"We feel for all groups marginalized," said Ahmed. "We understand. We're all going through the same thing."
The reports in Cincinnati showed a higher amount of hate crimes against individuals for racial or ethnic reasons, with religion coming in as the second-highest cause. Minority organizations in Cincinnati said they have changed the way they do things simply in reaction to the climate in the area.
At the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, cameras, a series of locked doors and armed security guard the building.
"We're going to take whatever means necessary to be safe," said Shep Englander with the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. "And building our warm, inclusive, caring community, and nothing is going to stop us."
The FBI's report points to white nationalism as one main root cause for the spike in hate crimes in the area.
But Englander has a plan: He created the Cincinnati Regional Coalition Against Hate to advocate for local victims and organizations that have experienced hate crimes. Because of that work, at-risk groups are set to receive federal funding next year to hire increased security.
"We're not retreating," said Englander. "This is who we are, and this is who America is, and we are not going to let a small number of violent people prevent us from being American."
He said the coalition expects lawmakers to pass a new law requiring investigators to define and report hate crimes the same way, to increase the accuracy of data moving forward.
For Ahmed, the biggest issue is finding a solution.
"We can look back in history and see all similar types of hate crimes," she said. "Nothing has been done."