Hate crime at its highest levels in decades, according to FBI

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The number of hate crimes in the U.S. jumped again in 2021, continuing an alarming rise, according to FBI data released Monday.

The nearly 12% increase marks a reversal of a previous, incomplete report from the agency that appeared to show a drop but was missing data from some of the nation’s largest cities, including New York and Los Angeles.

The hate crime numbers now include those and other large departments, and the total is the highest level in decades, said Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino.

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“We are in a unique and disturbing era where hate crimes overall stay elevated for longer punctuated by broken records,” he said.

Most of the victims, 64.5% were targeted due to their race, ethnicity or ancestry. Another 16% were targeted over their sexual orientation, and 14% of cases involved religious bias, according to the FBI report.

The FBI seal is pictured in Omaha, Nebraska, on Aug. 10, 2022. The number of hate crimes in the U.S. jumped again in 2021, according to FBI data released on March 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Intimidation and assault made up the largest portion of cases and 18 murders were also reported to be hate crimes.

Half of the religion cases targeted Jewish people, a finding that comes amid rising antisemitism, said Jill Garvey, chief of staff at the Western States Center.

Monday’s report also underscores the need for better record-keeping. “We’re still not getting enough data to know what the extent of the problem is,” Garvey said.

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The data shortfall in the previous report released in December was largely due to changes in how police must report their data to the FBI. To ensure a more complete picture, agency officials went back and allowed large departments to report under the previous system.

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,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta.

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