Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 9:53am

It's not possible to count the number of people in Madison who are affected daily by hate, bigotry or discrimination. Hate crimes and hate incidents often go unreported, due to lack of trust of police, anxiety about publicity, or unawareness of what resources are available to the community to help fight hate.
Wisconsin State Statutes (chapters 939 to 948) provide a hate crime enhancer for sentencing purposes for any crime committed in which the perpetrator:
"intentionally selects the person against whom the crime... is committed or selects the property that is damaged or otherwise affected by the crime... in whole or in part because of the actor's belief or perception regarding the race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry of that person or the owner or occupant of that property, whether or not the actor's belief or perception was correct."

Seeking Tolerance and Justice Over Hate (STAJOH) got its start in 2001, after some of its original members received federally-sponsored training about hate crimes at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, California. Subsequently, STAJOH served as a training and information source for government, police and criminal justice professionals in Madison and Dane County. Altogether, approximately 85 members of law enforcement, criminal justice agencies, and community members, such as the Madison Metropolitan School District, Centro Hispano and the Madison Jewish Community Council received the training, which was sponsored by the US Department of Justice until 2011.

STAJOH members also established an annual award, the Alix Olson Award for the Promotion of a Tolerant and Just Community, first given during the 2011 YWCA Madison Racial Justice Summit, to deserving recipients who demonstrated high achievements for, and concrete leadership in, the battle against hatred, discrimination or bigotry in the Madison area.

Now in 2017, STAJOH is entering its second wave of activity, with a handful of dedicated members who recognize the importance of rising up anew against all forms of hate. We are fortunate to have been given the generous support and opportunity to work with the City of Madison Mayor's Office and the Department of Civil Rights. Since all of the current STAJOH members are volunteers for this effort, the backing of the City of Madison is vital to our renewed, outreach, publicity and hate-fighting efforts.
For more information and updates about STAJOH, please visit the Department of Civil Rights website ( and join with us against hate.

Although criminal activity, including hate crimes or incidents, should be reported to the police agency where the offense was committed, the City's "Report-A-Problem" page ( serves as a first point of contact for people not certain or not ready to contact their local police authorities.