Hate Crime Reports In 2020 Soared To Highest Level In Over A Decade: FBI Data

August 31, 2021

By a Biometrica staffer

The number of hate crime incidents reported in 2020 were the highest it’s been in more than a decade, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) 2020 Hate Crime Statistics data, published on Monday, Aug. 30, showed, CBS News reported. In 2020, there were 7,759 hate crime incidents reported in total. That’s a more than 6% increase from 2019 and the highest number of such incidents recorded since 2008. In 2008, there were 7,783 incidents in total, the CBS report adds.

Before 2020’s data was published, 2019 held the record for the year with the highest level of reported hate crime incidents.

There were 7,554 single-bias hate incidents involving 10,528 victims reported to the FBI in 2020. An additional 205 incidents fueled by multiple biases and involving 333 victims were also recorded in the total count. The FBI relies on information that is voluntarily reported by local law enforcement agencies for its Hate Crimes Statistics report. In 2020, the Bureau said it received data from 15,136 law enforcement agencies out of 18,623. However, some advocates say hate crimes are under-reported and that the FBI’s data only accounts for a portion of actual incidents.

Of the total reported incidents, 61.9% of victims were targeted because of the offenders’ race/ethnicity/ancestry bias. Of the remainder:

  • 20.5% were victimized because of the offenders’ sexual-orientation bias
  • 13.4% were targeted because of the offenders’ religious bias
  • 2.5% were targeted because of the offenders’ gender identity bias
  • 1% were victimized because of the offenders’ disability bias
  • 0.7% were victimized because of the offenders’ gender bias

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
  • 18.1% were for aggravated assault
  • 22 murders and 19 rapes were reported as hate crimes
  • The remaining 27 hate crime offenses were reported under the category “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.

“Last year saw a 6.1% increase in hate crime reports, and in particular, hate crimes motivated by race, ethnicity and ancestry, and by gender identity. These numbers confirm what we have already seen and heard from communities, advocates and law enforcement agencies around the country. And these numbers do not account for the many hate crimes that go unreported,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement.

Image Source: Screengrab from the FBI’s 2020 Hate Crime Statistics press release

Anti-Black And Anti-Asian Prejudice

The number of incidents nationwide against people belonging to the Asian and Black communities rose sharply in 2020, with reported hate crime incidents targeting the former up by a steep 70% when compared with 2019.

The number of hate crime incidents reported that were anti-Black or African American in nature soared nearly 40% in 2020 to 2,755. Those 2,755 incidents, in turn, account for over 35% of the total hate crime incident reports for 2020. In 2019, anti-Black or African American hate crime incidents reported made up around 27% of the total hate crime incidents reported.

“These statistics show a rise in hate crimes committed against Black and African-Americans, already the group most often victimized. 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,” Attorney General Garland said in the statement.

Earlier this month, Biometrica wrote about the increase in hate crime incidents targeting the Asian community.

In that piece, we reported that national coalition Stop AAPI Hate said it received 9,081 reports of hate incidents committed against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community since the Covid-19 pandemic began, i.e., between March 2020 and June 30, 2021. The total number of such incidents this year, at 4,533 through the first six months, appears poised to overtake last year’s entire total of 4,548 hate incidents that were reported to Stop AAPI Hate.

AAPI victims have faced everything from taunts to outright assaults after the pandemic began and the virus was first reported in China. It was a tenuous association between these two facts that led to people of AAPI descent being at the receiving end of hate. Lawmakers, activists, and community groups have pushed back against the wave of attacks, the Associated Press said in its report on the Stop AAPI Hate numbers.

There have been countless social media campaigns, bystander training sessions, and public rallies. The bipartisan Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act was signed into law by President Joe Biden in May, with the express aim of curtailing a dramatic rise in hate crimes against the AAPI community.

Even in June, we wrote about how reports of hate crime events and offenses in California were at a 12-year high, characterized by particularly pronounced anti-Black and anti-Asian prejudice. According to that data, reports of overall bias-related events increased 31% in 2020, up to 1,330 from 2019’s 1,015. The last time it was this high was in 2008, when 1,397 events were reported

When it comes to religious bias, Jewish Americans remain the community most often targeted even per the new 2020 numbers. The community appeared to be particularly under attack during mid-2020, likely as a fallout of the violence that had broken out between Israel and Hamas in May.

“These hate crimes and other bias-related incidents instill fear across entire communities and undermine the principles upon which our democracy stands. 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,” Attorney General Garland said.