Hate crimes numbers in 2020 were the highest in two decades according to recent FBI data submitted by law enforcement agencies across the country.
The FBI data consisted of voluntary submitted reports from 15,138 law enforcement agencies detailing 8,263 criminal incidents and 11,129 related offenses motivated by racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, and gender biases – deemed as hate crimes.
The data revealed that 2020 saw nearly 1,000 more “single-bias” crimes – or crimes motivated by one kind of bias – than 2019, with 62% being a racial bias. Black Americans were the most targeted group based on race according to the data, with Jewish Americans being the most targeted based on religion.
2020’s hate crime statistics are the highest since 2001, which saw 9,730 incidents connected to the September 11 attacks.
The FBI report also noted a 73% increase in hate crimes directed against those of Asian descent, largely fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. There were 279 hate crime incidents involving Asian victims reported in 2020 compared to 161 in 2019.
In May, President Biden signed legislation to address the violence against Asian Americans by authorizing state and local grants to reduce crime and increase reporting.
“Though the Justice Department’s work to address unlawful acts of hate has a deep history, it remains an immediate and pressing charge that constantly requires new thinking,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a virtual press conference after the report was released.
Of the 18,000 agencies requested for information, nearly 3,000 chose not to participate.
The bureau is even offering incentives like grants and training to increase participation in their annual hate crime survey.
“I think the picture we have is limited based on participation and the data we received. I’m certainly aware of the number of agencies that haven’t participated,” Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division Michael Christman said.
Christman stressed the importance of having accurate data.
“I’m aware of the number of agencies that have submitted zero incidents again and again. It is certainly a priority for us to develop innovative and creative ways to really get better at obtaining this data so that we can have a full picture of hate crimes in the United States, and certainly accountability and transparency. And I think better policing will be the result,” he added.