The number of hate crimes in the United States rose last year to the highest level in more than a decade, driven by a surge in assaults targeting Asian and black victims, the FBI reported on Monday.
The FBI identified 7,759 hate-crimes in 2020, a six percent increase over 2019 and the highest level since 2008.
The 2020 data includes reports from more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies across the country
A hate crime is defined by the FBI as crimes where the perpetrator acts because of biases against the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or gender.
In 2020, 2,755 incidents against black or African-American people were reported in the US – a nearly 40 percent increase compared to 2019 – making them the most targeted racial group in the country, according to the FBI report.
The number of offenses targeting Asians jumped to 274, a whopping 70 percent increase compared with the 158 incidents in 2019
The report, released on Monday, found 7,759 criminal hate crime incidents were reported to the FBI in 2020, an increase of about 450 incidents over 2019. The spike comes as fewer local law enforcement agencies report crime incidents in their jurisdictions to the FBI compared to previous years
Reports of hate-inspired attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been on the rise, spurred by what many say were then-President Donald Trump’s inflammatory remarks blaming the COVID-19 pandemic on China.
Hate attacks targeting white people rose to 773, an increase of about 16 percent on 2019.
There were 676 recorded hate incidents against Jewish people, and 649 recorded incidents against gay men.
Of the 7,426 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against people, as opposed to crimes against property, 53.4 percent were for intimidation, 27.6 percent were for simple assault and 18.1 percent were for aggravated assault.
Twenty-two murders and 19 rapes were reported as hate crimes.
In all recorded hate incidents, 55 percent were perpetrated by white offenders – or 3,663 cases.
The Justice Department has warned that white supremacist groups represent a rising security threat after the deadly January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Black people were recorded as the perpetrator in 1,309 cases, or 20 percent.
In 1,080 cases the race of the offender was unknown.
PICTURED: A man holds a child on his shoulders at the Rally Against Hate to protest the recent violence aimed at the Asian American communities in New York City. After a rise in hate crimes against Asians across the nation, groups are speaking up and demanding more attention to the issue
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland (pictured) reminded the general public that the data collected by the FBI does ‘not account for the many hate crimes that go unreported.’
‘Preventing and responding to hate crimes and hate incidents is one of the Justice Department’s highest priorities,’ U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
‘The FBI Hate Crime Statistics for 2020 demonstrates the urgent need for a comprehensive response.’
He added that the data does ‘not account for the many hate crimes that go unreported.’
‘These hate crimes and other bias-related incidents instill fear across entire communities and undermine the principles upon which our democracy stands.’
‘All people in this country should be able to live without fear of being attacked or harassed because of where they are from, what they look like, whom they love or how they worship,’ Garland concluded.
The Justice Department has warned that white supremacist groups, such as the ones which were present at the assault of the U.S. capitol, will contribute to more hate crimes in the nation, as they represent an increasingly domestic security threat
In May, Attorney General Merrick Garland had already outlined new steps to help state and local police track and investigate hate crimes, which historically have been under-reported to the FBI, and called for the department to expedite the review of possible crimes.
A hate crimes bill proposed by President Biden to combat violence against Asian Americans passed the U.S. Senate in April with overwhelming bipartisan support.
The measure designated a Justice Department employee to expedite a review of hate crimes reported to police during the COVID-19 pandemic.