• Vivian De Waart

A Rise in Hate Crimes in the U.S. - Why We Need to Pay Attention

A recently released FBI report showed data from 2019 stating that hate crimes were at an all-time high. Federal officials recorded the highest amount of hate crimes every year since they started collecting data in the 1990s.

There were a total of 51 hate crime murders in 2019 which included 22 people killed in a shooting that targeted Mexicans at a Walmart in the city of El Paso. In 2019, there were a total of 7,314 hate crimes which is an increase from the 7,120 in 2018.

The data also shows a 7% increase in religion-based hate crimes, with 953 crimes targeting Jews and Jewish institutions. This is a large increase from the 835 the year before. However, the crime against African Americans dropped slightly from 1,943 to 1,930 (Balsamo).

Crimes against Hispanics rose from 485 to 527. The total number of hate crimes against one’s sexual orientation stayed relatively the same.

The reporting process is often considered flawed due to the fact that it is non-mandatory for police agencies to share their hate crime data with the federal bureau. Some say that this increase is a result of more reporting by police departments compared to previous years, but law enforcement officials and advocacy groups are not doubting the fact that hate crimes are on a rise. It is crucial to encourage these forces to report these crimes to accurately depict how often they are committed.

“It’s unsettling to know that hate crimes are still so prominent in today’s society and social climate,” said Sachi Keller, a criminal justice major at Sonoma State University.

Advocacy groups including the Anti-Defamation League, called on Congress and law enforcement agencies across the U.S. to improve data collecting and reporting of hate crimes.

Last year, only about 2,172 law enforcement agencies reported hate crimes out of the 15,000 across the country. Additionally, while the number of agencies reporting decreased, the number of hate crimes reported increased. This shows there are many hate crimes that go unreleased due to lack of reporting (Hassan).

“‘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,’ the Anti-Defamation League’s president, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in a statement,’” (Balsamo).

Although it is frowned upon by many that hate crimes go unreported to the Federal Bureau, experts say that a lot of hate crimes are not revealed to local police offices either. More than half of hate crimes go unreported by people to police offices and agencies.

Considering today’s political and social climate in the U.S., it’s not surprising that many of these hate crimes are occurring. The United States has never been more divided and some say it is at a “cultural war”.

Keller continues, “It is essential that we encourage hate crimes to be reported to local police offices so that we can make sure the FBI can make accurate depictions of how to fix the problem.”

The fact is that people’s lives are at stake and particularly those of minorities. Hate crimes are often represented by vandalism but can include murders as well. It’s crucial to pay attention to these crimes to give justice to those who are targeted.