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FBI Hate Crime Statistics, 2019 

By Erika Shannon

November 26, 2020

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has put out their annual report on hate crimes in the United States. The report is made public and can be found here if you are interested in looking over it yourself for reference. Hate crimes are defined here as offenses that are motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, or gender identity. Throughout 2019, there were 7,314 total incidents reported, with 8,812 total victims of those incidents. The incidents are broken down into whether or not the victim was targeted due to a single bias against them, or multiple biases. When looking at single-bias incidents, there were 8,552 victims; a staggering 57.6% of those incidents were motivated by the victims race, ethnicity, or ancestry. Most hate crimes committed were classified as intimidation, simple assault, or aggravated assault; however, there is also data of fifty-one murders, thirty rapes, and three offenses of human trafficking. According to FBI data, racially motivated hate crimes have been on the rise for the past ten years. This is disturbing information, and leads one to wonder why this number continues to grow. Besides crimes against people, there were also 2,811 hate crimes classified as crimes against property and 236 classified as crimes against society. Regardless of who or what the target is, hate crimes should not be on the rise in today’s society.

The numbers put forth by the FBI regarding hate crimes are troubling – the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed 56 years ago, and it was one of the highlights of the civil rights movement. We also saw the passage of another Civil Rights Act in 1968, which came with more notable hate crime laws and punishments. Decades have passed, and one would assume that the amount of hate crimes would go down over the years; especially hate crimes motivated by a racial bias. Some hypothesize that the rise in hate crimes can be attributed to racist rhetoric being put forth, especially on social media platforms. Others blame our lack of a leader who will condemn white supremacist groups. While in office, Donald Trump himself told right-wing extremist group Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during a presidential debate just months ago. Confirmation of Trump’s influence came when one of the group’s social media accounts incorporated the phrase “Stand Back. Stand By” in their new logo. A nation’s leaders influence clearly stems far and wide, which is why there is concern when a leader will not condemn white supremacy himself. A leaders inactions can feed into a long-standing pattern of intolerance; it comes as no shock that white people commit the highest amount of hate crimes in any given year since data has been reported. In 2019, 52.5% of the 6,406 offenders were white. This statistic may be proportionate with the fact that there are a higher percentage of whites than any other race in the U.S. population; however, one must also take into consideration what race is the most targeted by hate crimes. 48.5% of victims of single-bias incidents were committed due to anti-Black or African American bias..  For a nation whose past is riddled with slavery, segregation, intolerance, and discrimination, we must do better to lower the amount of hate crimes and promote tolerance in our communities.

There is no clear solution on how we can overcome the evidently growing problems of racism in America. There are numerous programs that exist to attempt to eliminate discrimination in the workplace, schools, and other institutions, yet we still see it happening on all levels. For starters, a leader who condemns racism and works to unite America’s citizens, regardless of color, gender, religion etc., would be a step in the right direction. With an apparent Joe Biden victory, there is hope that his leadership will do something to discourage the rise of white supremacist groups.

While hate crimes have been on the rise in the past years, 2020 specifically was full of right-wing extremists spewing hate, antagonizing protesters, and at one point, even plotting to kidnap government officials. Something must be done to curb their hate-filled motivations. Besides the rise in white supremacist group activity, there are other issues that need to be addressed in order to make the U.S. a place where all feel safe and included. The FBI hate crimes report showed that of the 3,963 hate crimes motivated by race, 25.3% of those took place in or near homes, and 20.5% occurred on roads or highways. Minorities should not have to fear for their safety at all, much less in their home or on their commute. We live in such a fast-paced society that people seem to forget: everybody around them has the same rights that they do. No person is less significant because of his or her race, religion or gender. We as Americans must take a step back and remind ourselves that America is supposed to be the land of equal opportunity. Racism cannot be tolerated, and the FBI’s report is evidence that we have a long way to go before every American can live their life without fear of being discriminated against or harmed. 

Resistance Resources

  • If you or someone you know has been the victim a hate crime, you can fill out this form on the Anti-Defamation League website.
  • To find out how you can join the fight to stop racism against African-Americans, check out the NAACP’s #WeAreDoneDying Campaign.
  • Click here to find out more about hate crimes or to view Hate Crime Reports from past years.
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