hate crimes

FBI Data Shows That Hate Crimes Reached Their Highest Level in a Decade Last Year

People gather at a makeshift memorial honoring victims of the August 2019 shooting in El Paso. Photo: Getty Images

According to an FBI report released on Monday, hate crimes in the United States rose to their highest level in over a decade last year, while hate-motivated killings were at their highest since the bureau began collecting such data in the early 1990s.

In 2019, there were 51 hate-crime murders in the U.S., a number that includes the 22 people killed in the August mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, perpetrated by a suspect who wrote that he wanted to stop a purported “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” In total, there were over 7,314 hate crimes last year, up from 7,120 in 2018; the last time such acts breached the current level was in 2008.

As the Associated Press notes, the FBI report “defines hate crimes as those motivated by bias based on a person’s race, religion or sexual orientation, among other categories,” and that part of the rise may be attributed to better reporting tactics by police departments. However, the bureau’s annual analysis relies on voluntary reporting by close to 15,000 participating agencies — of which only 2,172 law-enforcement agencies actually participated by providing information on hate crimes, according to the AP.

Upon the publication of the FBI report on Monday, advocates called for the mandatory reporting of hate-crime data throughout all law-enforcement agencies. “The total severity of the impact and damage caused by hate crimes cannot be fully measured without complete participation in the FBI’s data collection process,” Anti-Defamation League’s president Jonathan Greenblatt said, adding that law-enforcement agencies must “remove the barriers that too often prevent people in marginalized communities — the individuals most likely to suffer hate crimes — from reporting hate-based incidents.”

Like last year, crimes motivated by race were largely perpetrated against Black Americans, representing just under half of those reported. For acts motivated by religion, Jewish Americans and institutions were the target in 60.3 percent of incidents — a number that grew 7 percent from the previous year. This trend is consistent in New York City, where hate crimes against Jewish residents were at their highest level last year since 1992.

FBI: Hate Crimes Reached Highest Level in a Decade Last Year