The number of hate crimes in America during 2020 reached the highest level in 12 years, launched by increasing assaults targeting Black and Asian victims, according to a report from the FBI.
The federal agency reported a total of 7,759 hate crimes during a year unlike any other in moderns times, that was paralyzed by a global pandemic, divided by vituperative presidential election and shaken by economic upheaval.
The total number of hate crimes marked an increase of six percent from 2019 and the most since 2008, when 7,783 hate crimes were reported.
Hate Crime data for the nation are derived from National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) and Summary Reporting System (SRS) reports voluntarily submitted to the FBI.
The 2020 FBI Hate Crime statistics for the nation are based on data received from 15,136 of 18,623 law enforcement agencies in the country that year.
The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program defines 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.
It is the sixth time in the past seven years that the number of attacks rose. The number of hate crimes reported has increased by nearly 42 percent since 2014, according to federal data.
Attacks targeting Blacks rose from 1,930 to 2,755, and the number targeting Asians jumped from 158 to 274, the data showed. Those figures come as civil rights groups have warned of increasing hostility toward minorities, amid a rise in white nationalism and an increase in violent crime levels nationwide.
Hate crimes are motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, gender, gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and were committed against people, property, or society.
Of the 7,426 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against persons in 2020, 53.4% were for intimidation, 27.6% were for simple assault, and 18.1% were for aggravated assault. Twenty-two (22) murders and 19 rapes were reported as hate crimes. The remaining 27 hate crime offenses were reported in the category of other.
Of the 2,913 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against property, most (76.4%) were acts of destruction/damage/vandalism. Robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and other offenses accounted for the remaining 23.6% of crimes against property.
One hundred ninety-three (193) 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.
Of the 6,431 known offenders, 55.2% were White and 20.2% were Black or African American. Other races accounted for the remaining known offenders: 1.1% were Asian, 1.1% were American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.5% were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and 5.6% were of a group of multiple races. The race was unknown for 16.4%.
Of the 5,820 known offenders for whom ethnicity was reported, 39.3% were Not Hispanic or Latino, 10.7% were Hispanic or Latino, and 2.5% were in a group of multiple ethnicities. Ethnicity was unknown for 47.5% of these offenders.
Of the 5,915 known offenders for whom ages were known, 89.1% were 18 years of age or older.
Law enforcement agencies may specify the location of an offense within a hate crime incident as one of 46 location designations. In 2020, most hate crime incidents (28.3%) occurred in or near residences/homes.
Nearly 20% (19.9) occurred on highways/roads/alleys/streets/sidewalks, 6.5% happened at parking/drop lots/garages, 4.4% occurred at schools/colleges, 3.6% occurred at parks/playgrounds, and 3.6% took place in churches/synagogues/temples/mosques.
The location was reported as other/unknown for 8.6% of hate crime incidents. The remaining 25.1% of hate crime incidents took place at other or multiple locations.
The FBI is engaged in a nationwide effort to build public awareness of hate crimes and encourage reporting to law enforcement. If you believe you are victim or a witness of a hate crime, we encourage you to report it to the FBI by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or submitting a tip at tips.fbi.gov. You may remain anonymous.
“These statistics show a rise in hate crimes committed against Black and African-Americans, already the group most often victimized,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Notably, they show a rise in hate crimes committed against members of the Asian-American Pacific Islander community. This also confirms what we have seen and heard through our work and from our partners.”
“These hate crimes and other bias-related incidents instill fear across entire communities and undermine the principles upon which our democracy stands,” said Garland. “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.”
“Our commitment to investigating and prosecuting hate crimes is deeply rooted in the department’s founding,” said Garland. “At my direction, the department has rededicated itself to combatting unlawful acts of hate, including by improving incident reporting, increasing law enforcement training and coordination at all levels of government, prioritizing community outreach and making better use of civil enforcement mechanisms. All of these steps share common objectives: deterring hate crimes and bias-related incidents, addressing them when they occur, supporting those victimized by them and reducing the pernicious effects these incidents have on our society.”