Hate crimes reach highest level in 12 years

Hate crimes reach highest level in 12 years
Federal hate crime data is largely gathered from voluntary self-reporting by local police agencies

Hate crimes in the US have increase in 2020 to the highest level in 12 years, particularly incidents aimed at Black and Asian victims, according to a recently released FBI report.

The FBI reported that 7,759 hate crimes occurred last year, a six per cent increase over 2019’s numbers, and the most since 2008, when 7,783 hate crimes were reported.

According to The Washington Post, it is the sixth time in the past seven years that the number of recorded hate crimes has increased. According to the FBI’s data, hate crimes have increased 42 per cent since 2014.

When broken down by race, Black people still face the bulk of racially charged attacks. In 2019, Black people were the victims of 1,930 attacks. In 2020, that number rose to 2,755.

Asian victims suffered 274 attacks, an increase from 158 in 2019.

Attacks targeting white people rose to 773, a 16 per cent increase over 2019.

The data suggests there was actually a decrease in hate crimes against Hispanic people, dropping from 761 in 2019 to 685 in 2020.

Civil rights groups have warned that hostility toward minorities has been on the rise, particularly due to a rise in white nationalism and violent crime.

Hate crime data is gathered by the FBI from self-reporting by local law enforcement agencies. Agencies are not compelled to self-report, and most of the agencies that do participate in reporting recorded no hate crimes in their jurisdictions.

Due to the nature of crime data in the US, congressional Democrats and civil rights organisations have worried that hate crimes are actually underreported. They claim that local police agencies are not trained to properly identify instances of hate crimes or generally do not have the resources or interest in fully investigating the incidents.

Stop AAPI Hate, grassroots group aimed at curbing anti-Asian hate incidents, reported there were 6,660 hate incidents aimed at Asian Americans between March 2020 and March of this year.

Most of the incidents – 65 per cent – were incidents involving verbal harassment, and 12.6 per cent involved assault.

Federal hate crime data includes crimes driven by race, sexual orientation, racial or ethnic ancestry, religion, disability, gender and gender identity, or incidents including multiple biases. Race and ethnic ancestry was the primary driver of hate crimes, accounting for 4,939 of the reported 7,759 incidents.

Religion and sexual orientation were the second and third highest categories, with 1,174 and 1,051 incidents, respectively.

Congress moved in May to approve the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, requiring the US Department of Justice to appoint an official tasked with expediting investigations into hate crimes reported to federal law enforcement agencies.

The measure also aims to improve online reporting channels and expanding its resources to help immigrants who may face language barriers when seeking to report incidents.


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