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US Hate Crimes Hit Record High: FBI Updated Report


FILE - This March 20, 2021, photo shows people holding signs as they attend a rally to support Stop Asian Hate at the Logan Square Monument in Chicago.

The number of hate crimes in the United States jumped dramatically in 2021 to set a record high of nearly 11,000 incidents, the FBI said in a supplement to its annual hate crimes report.

There were 10,840 reported incidents of hate crime in 2021, according to the update, a 31% increase from 8,263 reported the previous year. The FBI had previously put the number of hate crimes in 2021 at 7,262, based on incomplete data.

The year-on-year increase in hate crimes in 2021 was the largest in more than three decades, according to Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

"This represents a horrifying new era that we're in with elevated historic levels across many years and a broken record in 2021," Levin said in an interview with VOA.

The FBI defines hate crime as a criminal offense motivated "by the offender's bias(es) against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity."

The most reported hate crimes in 2021: intimidation, simple assault and destruction, damage and vandalism.

The top five bias categories in the supplemental report were anti-Black, anti-white, anti-gay male, anti-Jewish and anti-Asia.

Anti-Black hate crimes rose 14% to 3,277 incidents, anti-white incidents increased 27% to 1,107, while anti-Asian bias incidents jumped 167% to 746.

"There was an explosion of racial hatred across the board," Levin said.

Contributing to the overall rise was a 28% increase in anti-Jewish incidents, from 683 to 871, and a 40% spike in anti-gay attacks, from 673 to 948.

FILE - Demonstrators hold signs during a rally against hate crimes outside City Hall in Los Angeles, March 27, 2021.
FILE - Demonstrators hold signs during a rally against hate crimes outside City Hall in Los Angeles, March 27, 2021.

The FBI issued its annual hate crimes report in December, showing 7,262 incidents for 2021. But the report was based on incomplete data, as about 4,000 law enforcement agencies were unable to switch to the FBI's new data collection system.

To provide a more complete picture of hate crimes in 2021, the FBI, in what a senior official called "an interim measure," then collected data compiled under the old system from about 3,000 agencies.

"We took in an incredible amount of data as part of this project," the official said on a press call with reporters, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The data was raw, but it allowed the FBI to "produce a national trend, which we could not do last year," he said.

Especially helpful to the FBI's effort to produce a more accurate hate crime picture was information provided by large police departments that had not participated in the data collection last year, the official said.

The large agencies included police departments in New York, Chicago and California, the official said.

The bureau's annual hate crimes report is widely used by law enforcement, policymakers, experts and community leaders as a broad measure of bias offenses in America.

Critics say the report tends to undercount hate crimes in large part because it's based on voluntary data submission by police departments.

The FBI says it's working with agencies to improve their data collection. The FBI's new data collection system, known as the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), captures more granular details and context about crime, including the day and time of a given crime and the relationship of its victim to the offender, allowing police departments to fight crime more effectively.

For its updated 2021 hate crimes report, the FBI says it received data from 11,883 of 18,812 law enforcement agencies in the country.

The FBI official said the "agency participation for 2022 has already surpassed the numbers in 2021."

The FBI's 2022 hate crimes report is due out in the fall. Preliminary police data compiled by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism suggests that hate crimes continued to increase in major U.S. cities last year, Levin said.

The Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick Garland has made combating hate crime a top priority for the agency.

"The FBI's supplemental report demonstrates our unwavering commitment to work with our state and local partners to increase reporting and provide a more complete picture of hate crimes nationwide," Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a statement.

"We will not stop here. We are continuing to work with state and local law enforcement agencies across the country to increase the reporting of hate crime statistics to the FBI. Hate crimes and the devastation they cause communities have no place in this country."