The number of hate crimes reported in the U.S. in 2020 was the highest recorded since 2001, according to newly released data from the FBI, that also showed a 76 percent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes.
According to the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics report, anti-Asian incidents significantly increased from 158 in 2019 to 279 in 2020, even though they only make up a small percentage of the 8,263 total hate crimes reported in 2020,
Overall, most of last year’s hate crimes — nearly 50 percent of them — were against black people. Meanwhile, 55 percent of known perpetrators that started these hate crimes were white, while 21 percent were black or African American.
‘Every hate crime is an attack on the community,’ Jay Greenberg, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s criminal division, told ABC News.
The FBI’s 2020 data came from 15,138 law enforcement agencies around the country. Roughly half of all hate crime incidents disclosed were labeled as intimidation, while 27 percent were simple assault and nearly 18 percent were classified as aggravated assault (which the FBI categorizes as ‘physical attacks intended to inflict severe or aggravated bodily injury’).
After hate crimes that involved race, which made up the majority of the cases, 20 percent involved sexual orientation bias, 13.3 percent were biases related to religion, 2.7 percent involved gender identity bias (which means attacks against transgender and non-binary people), 1.4 percent involved disability bias, and 0.7 percent involved gender bias.
Of the 7,750 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against persons in 2020, 53.1 percent were for intimidation, 27.9 percent were for simple assault, and 17.9 percent were for aggravated assault. Twenty-two murders and 21 rapes were reported as hate crimes. The remaining 32 hate crime offenses were reported in the category of other.
The report, released on Monday, found 8,263 criminal hate crime incidents were reported to the FBI in 2020, an increase of about 504 incidents since 2019. The spike comes as more local law enforcement agencies report crime incidents in their jurisdictions to the FBI compared to previous years.
Of the 3,147 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against property, 74.1 percent were acts of destruction, damage, or vandalism. Robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and other offenses accounted for the remaining 25.9 percent of crimes against property.
More than 230 additional offenses were classified as crimes against society. This crime category represents society’s prohibition against engaging in certain types of activity such as gambling, prostitution, and drug violations. These are typically victimless crimes in which property is not the object.
The report, published on Monday, also modified an August report for 2020 that failed to mention all of Ohio’s data due to a technical error, the FBI said.
In 2001 ― the year of the September 11 attacks — people reported 9,730 incidents motivated by bias, the most in the last two decades. The year with the fewest hate crimes was in 2014 (5,462) but figures have gradually increased ever since, with the exception of 2018, when there was a slight decrease.
Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition of Asian American and Pacific Islander advocacy groups and scholars, has previously made aware that anti-Asian hate crimes have gone up exponentially since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The group has received reports of nearly 10,000 incidents since March 2020, with 43 percent of targeted victims of Chinese descent.
Though anti-Asian incidents made up just a small percentage of the 8,263 hate crimes reported in 2020, they did rise significantly, from 158 in 2019 to 279 in 2020, according to the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics report
After a rise in hate crimes against Asians across the nation, groups are speaking up and demanding more attention to the issue. PICTURED: Protesters rally in D.C. to call attention to Asian-American discrimination and remember the Asian-American lives lost in a series of shootings in Atlanta in March.
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.
He famously dubbed coronavirus ‘the China virus’ and ‘kung flu’, and in March earlier this year, eight people, six of whom were Asian women, were killed at three different parlors in the Atlanta metro area. Following the shooting, mass protests against anti-Asian violence occurred in cities across the world.
Researchers have long said that hate crimes are likely underreported, with a survey concluding that 35 percent of Asian Americans would be ‘uncomfortable’ telling the police they were targeted in a hate-related incident. The survey was published this last spring.
Greenberg encouraged anyone who believes they were a victim of a hate crime to contact law enforcement. Incidents can be reported to the FBI by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or by submitting a tip on the FBI’s website.
‘We would like the public to reach out to us if they believe that they are a victim of a hate crime,’ Greenberg told ABC News. ‘It’s not for the public to make that determination; we will work with our state and local partners and help determine how best to investigate that.’
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.
‘These hate crimes and other bias-related incidents instill fear across entire communities and undermine the principles upon which our democracy stands,’ Garland said.
‘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.’
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.’
A hate crimes bill proposed by President Biden to combat violence against Asian Americans passed the U.S. Senate in May with overwhelming bipartisan support.
The new law will expedite Justice Department reviews of hate crimes by putting an official in charge of the effort. Federal grants will be available to help local law enforcement agencies improve their investigation, identification and reporting of bias-driven incidents, which often go unreported.
Some activists opposed the legislation’s reliance on law enforcement.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who is black and Indian, discussed reports of stabbings, shootings and other attacks against Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals and their businesses since the start of the pandemic a little over a year ago.
Harris said such incidents had increased six-fold during that time.
At the time of the bill’s approval, she said that while the new law brings the U.S. closer to stopping hate, ‘the work to address injustice, wherever it exists, remains the work ahead.’
President Joe Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law in May, surrounded by members of Congress
The AAPI complimented Biden for quickly signing the bill. But executive director Varun Nikore said the law is ‘only one piece in the long fight’ for equity and opportunity for communities of color.
Nikore said Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders will use the ‘electoral prowess’ they demonstrated last year to elect leaders who will advocate for their community.
‘Ending Asian hate should never be a partisan issue,’ he said.
The bill-signing marked a fleeting moment of bipartisanship in a Congress that has struggled all year to overcome partisan gridlock over issues ranging from COVID-19 aid to the definition of ‘infrastructure’ regarding the Biden administration’s ongoing $3.5 trillion tax plan.