NewsClub Q Shooting


Expert responds to Club Q charges, climbing hate crime rates

Colorado Springs Shooting
Posted at 9:54 PM, Dec 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-07 07:41:32-05

DENVER — The 305 criminal counts, including hate crimes and murder, facing the accused Club Q shooter marks one of the highest counts of any case in the state’s history, according to District Attorney Michael Allen, who said he feels confident evidence will prove hate crime charges being brought.

“The number of charges is astounding,” Dr. Rachel Nielsen said of the filings.

Nielsen, a clinical psychologist and Director of Targeted Violence Prevention Programs for the McCain Institute, said hate crime charges are important to pursue in cases like the Club Q shooting despite being historically difficult to prove in court.

“I’m glad that the hate crime piece was there because it gives people an opportunity in the justice system to properly track and intervene,” she explained. “It is different than other forms of assault and violence, and therefore probation, parole, corrections [officers] need to know who they’re dancing with, essentially.”

Expert responds to Club Q charges, climbing hate crime rates

Another reason these charges are important, according to Nielsen, has to do with the conversations and responses our community has now. Data from many agencies show hate crimes are on the rise, both in Colorado and nationwide. And while hate is not new, Dr. Nielsen said the way it is reaching our young people online is, particularly after they felt more isolated during the pandemic.

“I really worry about what that did to people, not just socially but also being able to deal with conflict, the level of involvement they got into online, what they say online,” Dr. Nielsen said. “People are coming out with really unedited versions of their hate, which hadn’t been seen in a while. The way that it’s affecting our youth, the way that it’s hurting our communities is unique in this day and age. And we can all play a part.”

Playing a part can mean different things at different times. Dr. Nielsen advocates for public displays of support for targeted groups, which are especially important and powerful. Watching for warning signs of extremist thought from the people close to you is also vital. Dr. Nielsen lists these as some of the top red flags to be on alert for:

  • Negative changes in behavior
  • A decline in behavior or performance at school
  • Engaging in radical commentary among peer groups, on social media, or in online gaming
  • Offering justifications for violence or hailing past attacks

If any threats are made, those should be taken seriously and reported. When encountering problematic ideologies on their own, however, Dr. Nielsen recommends not trying to refute them directly but rather steering conversations toward other needs the person may have that are not being met.

“You never want to argue with someone about their beliefs directly,” she explained. “Really, to start a conversation, you want to come from a place of curiosity and concern. And so rather than argue that it’s wrong, or ‘you shouldn’t act this way’ from the get-go, seek to understand ‘why does this appeal to you?’ Then you can understand what their underlying needs are that they’re trying to meet through really inappropriate and dangerous ways.”