Report: Hate crimes soar, Black people targeted most but experienced lowest spike from 2020 to 2021

States and local governments reported 10,840 bias-motivated crimes, up nearly 25 percent from 2020 and the highest level since the data started being tracked.

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The number of hate crimes across the United States in 2021 reached the highest level since the federal government started tracking the statistics more than three decades ago, The Washington Post reported.

In 2021, state and local governments reported 10,840 bias-motivated crimes, a nearly 25% from 2020 and considerably more than the previous high of 9,730 last tallied in 2001.

Meanwhile, a Federal Bureau of Investigation report released Monday shows that crimes against Blacks increased from 2,871 in 2020 to 3,277 in 2021. While Black people were targeted the most, they experienced the smallest increase in crimes committed against them — slightly more than 14%.

On the other hand, crimes against some other groups — particularly people of Asian descent — rose exponentially, almost 300% from 249 in 2020 to 746 in 2021, the most recorded in one year, according to The Post.

Crimes against gay men rose from 673 to 948 or almost 41%; for white people, the increase from 869 to 1,107 was slightly more than 27%. The number of Jewish people targeted rose from 683 to 817 or about 19.6%.

hate crimes increase united states
Hate crimes soared across the United States in 2021, reaching the highest level since the federal government started tracking the statistics more than three decades ago. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Brian Levin, a hate crime data tracker and director of California State University at San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, called it a “horrifying record” compared with 2001. He noted that his center has since gathered information from nearly 30 major U.S. cities that indicate a continued increase in hate crimes in 2022.

“What this establishes, along with our research, is that we have hit an inflection point now, in this decade, in regards to hate crimes that we haven’t seen since modern data collection began,” said Levin, The Post reported. “The significance of this is that there are now multiple years of increases.”

The increase in hate crimes coincides with recent warnings from U.S. intelligence officials about growing domestic threats from extremist and white nationalist organizations. 

Still, the FBI’s data remains insufficient since many of the more than 18,000 of the nation’s local, state and tribal law enforcement agencies do not report any hate crime statistics. According to officials, 14,859 agencies participated in the FBI’s data reporting initiative in 2021. This number comprises roughly 91 percent of law enforcement organizations in the United States, but the FBI also noted that many state and local law enforcement agencies experienced difficulty in complying with the new federal reporting system. 

Meanwhile, civil rights organizations that have attempted to track hate crimes independently claim that the federal figures are significantly undercounted. For instance, Stop AAPI Hate, a California-based organization that started keeping track of hate crimes against Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, recorded more than 11,000 incident claims via a public reporting hotline since 2020. However, most accounts, including racial slurs and assaults, are anecdotal and not considered crimes.

Criminal justice experts also note that victims frequently fail to report hate crimes because of linguistic barriers or a lack of confidence among marginalized groups that officers will take their reports seriously.

FBI officials have increased its resources for the fight against hate crimes since 2020, The Post reported, including conducting more than 300 training sessions for regional law enforcement organizations and 1,800 community outreach events.

The Justice Department has also started to step up prosecutions of hate crimes and has taken additional measures for better reporting, such as expanding access to federal portals in other languages.

“Hate crimes and the devastation they cause communities have no place in this country,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta in a statement, according to The Post. “The Justice Department is committed to every tool and resource at our disposal to combat bias-motivated violence in all its forms.”

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