Hate crimes in US at highest level in 12 years, says FBI report

Numbers in report ‘shocking’ but ‘not even close to the complete picture’

A rally against anti-Asian hate in the Chinatown-International District of Seattle. Photograph: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty

A rally against anti-Asian hate in the Chinatown-International District of Seattle. Photograph: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty

 

Hate crimes in the US have risen to the highest level in 12 years, triggered largely by a surge in assaults on black and Asian Americans, according to a FBI report.

The 2020 data, submitted to the FBI by more than 15,000 state and local police agencies, identified 7,759 hate crimes, a 6 per cent increase on 2019 and the highest number since 2008. Since 2014, hate crimes have risen 42 per cent.

Anti-black assaults increased from 1,930 to 2,755, a 40 per cent increase on 2019. Anti-Asian assaults rose from 158 to 274, a 70 per cent jump. Attacks targeting white people were up 16 per cent, at 773.

Of 6,576 offenders recorded, 55 per cent were white, 20 per cent black, 16 per cent unknown, 6 per cent of multiple races and 1 per cent Asian.

Anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish hate crimes decreased by 42 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively.

“Preventing and responding to hate crimes and hate incidents is one of the justice department’s highest priorities,” US attorney general Merrick Garland said in a statement.

“The FBI Hate Crime Statistics for 2020 demonstrates the urgent need for a comprehensive response.”

Mr Garland said most hate crimes were motivated by race, ethnicity, ancestry or gender identity.

“These numbers confirm what we have already seen and heard from communities, advocates and law enforcement agencies around the country,” he said. “And these numbers do not account for the many hate crimes that go unreported.”

Drop in participation

Congress requires the FBI to collect hate-crime data based on reports submitted by local law enforcement. But the number of agencies participating decreased for at least a second consecutive year, the Washington Post reported.

In 2020, 15,136 agencies submitted reports, 422 fewer than in 2019. Most participating agencies reported no hate crimes.

“Data drives policy and without having a complete picture of the problem we cannot even begin to resolve the issues driving this surge in hate and violence,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League.

In May, Mr Garland laid out steps to counter domestic terrorism, which he declared his “top priority” as he warned of a growing security threat from white supremacists.

In the same month, President Joe Biden signed the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, expediting a review of hate crimes and making grants available to help agencies improve investigation, identification and reporting.

Many activists and lawmakers maintain that the actual number of hate crimes is larger than those reported, arguing that local police are poorly trained in identifying and classifying such crimes and lack resources and interest.

Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition that tracks racially motivated self-reported hate crimes against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, recently said there had been more than 9,000 anti-Asian hate crimes since the coronavirus pandemic began.

“While the numbers in this report are shocking, we know that they are not even close to the complete picture,” Judy Chu, chair of the congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, told the Washington Post. – Guardian