The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported on Monday that hate crimes in the United States rose about 6 percent last year to their highest level in 12 years, driven by attacks on black and Asian people.
State and local police reported 7,759 criminal incidents in 2020 were motivated by bias, amid a pandemic and a racial reckoning prompted by the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, said the FBI in its report.
The number of anti-black hate crimes went up from 1,930 to 2,755, an increase of about 42 percent. The number of anti-Asian hate crimes went up from 161 to 274, an increase of about 73 percent. This is according to statistics compiled by the FBI and provided by 15,136 law enforcement agencies in the country in 2020.
Anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim hate crimes dropped last year by 30 percent and 42 percent respectively.
Reports of hate-inspired attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have risen, spurred by what many say were then-president Donald Trump’s inflammatory remarks blaming the COVID-19 pandemic on China.
Groups like Stop AAPI Hate said anti-Asian hate crimes are difficult to count, and the FBI is likely undercounting the true number because many victims fail to report incidents, and local agencies are not required to report hate crime data to the FBI.
Stop AAPI Hate reported 6,603 hate incidents from March 2020 to March 2021, an increase from 3,795 the previous year.
‘Real level understated’
“It’s important to note that, because of the nature of hate crime reporting, the FBI’s annual report vastly understates the real level of hate crimes in the country,” said the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, which tracks hate groups.
The SPLC noted that the rise in hate crimes in recent years comes as the number of white supremacy groups surges. According to data collected by the SPLC, the number of white nationalist groups grew 55 percent between 2017 and 2019.
“Preventing and responding to hate crimes and hate incidents is one of the Justice Department’s highest priorities,” said US Attorney General Merrick Garland in a statement. “The FBI Hate Crime Statistics for 2020 demonstrates the urgent need for a comprehensive response.”
In May, Garland outlined new steps to help state and local police track and investigate hate crimes, which historically have been underreported to the FBI by local law enforcement and called for the department to expedite the review of possible hate crimes.
A hate crimes bill to combat violence against Asian Americans passed the Senate in April with overwhelming bipartisan support. The measure designated a US Justice Department employee to expedite a review of hate crimes reported to police during the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Pic: n this file photo taken on March 13, 2021, people hold signs during the “We Are Not Silent” rally against anti-Asian hate in response to recent anti-Asian crime in the Chinatown-International District of Seattle, Washington.)