The FBI recently released the country’s hate crime statistics for 2021, but less than two-thirds of law enforcement agencies submitted data for the year.
Compiled data submitted to the FBI voluntarily by 18,000 law enforcement agencies around the country recorded 5,781 hate crimes in 2021, with 35% being simple assault cases and 18% classed as aggravated assaults. In addition, 65% of those hate crime victims were targeted based on their race or ethnicity, 16% were targeted due to their sexual orientation and 13% were targeted base on their religion.
“The prevalence of hate crimes has increased,” FBI Deputy Assistant Director Brian Griffith said in an interview with CBS News. “It continues to be a concern throughout the country. Race, ethnicity and ancestry continue to be the largest targeted categories.”
According to Griffith, half of all race-based hate crime victims targeted Black people; 21% were attributed to anti-white bias and 10% to anti-Latino bias. The data showed that nearly one-third of the religiously motivated hate crimes were based in anti-Jewish bias, while 21% involved anti-Sikh violence.
The FBI defines a hate crime as a “committed criminal offense which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias(es) against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”
The data also classified nine homicides and 13 rapes as hate-motivated crimes.
However, the FBI said the report was lacking a more complete picture of the data given the comparatively low participation among agencies. Departments that submitted data for this year fell sharply from 93% in 2020 to 65% in 2021, which experts blame on the FBI’s transition to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).
Experts say the new data collection system, used by both FBI and the Department of Justice Statistics, will allow for a more detailed picture of crime in the nation by including more information on victims and offenders.
“Everything from the bias to the race, ethnicity, different demographics of the subject. The previous summary reporting system — all we were receiving was aggregate data results,” Griffith said. “Now we’re going to understand much more clearly about the bias, the location of incidents, the weapons or tools that were used. Incident based reporting will give us much more insight.”
Former FBI agent Michael German, who works at the Brennan Center for Justice, said that acquiring adequate data is a huge challenge for the department.
“The lack of objective hate crime data has been a longstanding problem. The FBI and the Justice Department have been promoting NIBRS as the answer. So it’s frustrating that when it’s in place, the data reporting is even worse,” he said.
German implied that making it optional for state and local governments to report the data was a main roadblock.
“Congress passed the Hate Crime Statistics Act in 1990, requiring the Justice Department to produce national data regarding hate crimes. And the Justice Department abdicated this responsibility and instead asked state and local governments to report voluntarily. And that’s been the problem ever since,” German said.
According to the report, major cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Miami did not provide data. Other large cities, like Chicago and Phoenix, reported zero hate crimes in 2021.
“The failure by major states and cities across the country to report hate crime data essentially — and inexcusably — erases the lived experience of marginalized communities across the country,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
A DOJ official reported that the department has charged 60 individuals with hate crimes in 2021 and convicted 55 of them.