US hate crime levels skyrocketed in 2021, report finds

The US saw an all-time high in hate crimes in 2021, according to a report by the FBI.

In a supplemental review shared on Monday, the bureau revealed 9,065 hate crimes were reported in 2021, up 12 per cent from 8,120 in 2020.

More than 12,000 Americans were targeted due to the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity. Sixty-five of the victims were assaulted because of their race and ethnicity, according to NPR.

Nearly 16 per cent of the victims were targeted due to their sexual orientation and 14 per cent because of their religion. It is the highest level since the FBI began tracking hate crimes more than 30 years ago.

“Preventing, investigating and prosecuting hate crimes are top priorities for the Justice Department, and reporting is key to each of those priorities,” Associate US Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a statement.

“Hate crimes and the devastation they cause communities have no place in this country. The Justice Department is committed to every tool and resource at our disposal to combat bias-motivated violence in all its forms.”

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program data, the spike was seen across all categories.

Numbers show that in 2,233 of those incidents, the violence was motivated due to anti-Black bias. Assaults on people of Asian descent went from around 250 in 2020 to 746 in 2021, nearly three times higher.

The results were partially published last December, but the FBI noted at the time that some departments were not able to submit their reports to the new database, the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), on time.

The new report only accounts for 91 per cent of the US population, with data gathered from 14,859 law enforcement agencies. Other local departments do not report hate crimes.

Forty-three per cent of the incidents were determined to be intimidation, 35.5 per cent were simple assaults and 20 per cent were aggravated assaults. Eighteen murders and 19 rapes stemming from hate bias were reported.

“This is a horrifying record that is greater than what we saw in 2001,” Director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University Brian Levin told The Washington Post. “What this establishes, along with our research, is that we have hit an inflection point now, in this decade, in regards to hate crimes that we haven’t seen since modern data collection began.”

The DoJ said it is aggressively working on securing convictions for defendants in hate crimes.

“The department has charged more than 70 defendants in over 60 different cases and secured more than 60 convictions of defendants,” a statement read, though it was not clarified whether those numbers pertained to the cases reported in 2021 or currently ongoing.

The DoJ also plans to create new roles within the department to combat the rise in hate crimes and announced that all 94 Attorneys’ Offices will host a United Against Hate programme this year to help improve the reporting of those incidents.