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State and local community effort continue to lead hate crime reporting

Written by Yuuki Nishida





The stabbing of an 18-year-old Indiana University student on a local bus in Bloomington, Indiana, this January, was a chilling reminder of the ongoing violence directed at the Asian community in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The victim sustained multiple head wounds, underscoring the seriousness and brutality of these attacks.


It’s been over 20 months since President Joe Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, an effort to address hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) by addressing the lack of resources available in reporting hate crimes. In the two years since its passing, key initiatives have yet to be rolled out. One such initiative required the Justice Department to issue grants to states to set up hate crime reporting hotlines. Though a handful of states, including California, have launched their own reporting hotline outside of federal support. 


Outside of government-funded resources, grassroots community organizations have been paving the way for reporting hate crimes. Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting center that tracks incidents of hate, discrimination and xenophobia against the AAPI community, documented over 11,400 self-reported incidents from March 2020 to March 2022. 67 percent of reported incidents involved harassment, such as verbal or written hate speech and discriminatory gestures. 17 percent involved physical assault. California led the states with the largest number of reported incidents at over 4,000. 


One recent unpublished study by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism from California State University San Bernardino analyzed numbers from different law enforcement agencies. They found that anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 224% in 2021 in a survey of 21 US cities. Counting the number of hate crimes to a record of 369, higher than the FBI’s previous national peak of 355. Hate crimes against Asians was the top category in San Francisco, second in New York and Seattle and third in Chicago.


Data and charts by CSHE with data from US Police Agencies.



It's evident that there is a problem with the FBI's hate crime data collection effort. In 2020, despite over 15,000 agencies taking part, less than 16% - roughly 2,400 - reported incidents of hate crimes. Shockingly, the rest of the agencies, including nearly 70 cities with populations over 100,000, either reported zero hate crimes or failed to submit any data to the FBI at all. To receive funding from the DOJ, individual agencies must demonstrate a good faith effort to improve hate crime collection and reporting. 


Stop AAPI Hate has gone on record to state that many of its self-reports may not constitute a hate crime and would not be prosecuted as such under the Justice Department’s criteria. The organization does not independently verify any of the reports it receives, but that its total number only includes reports that have a description. Law enforcement agencies define hate crimes as criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.


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