By Gilda P. Balan, Correspondent
LOS ANGELES – The number of hate crimes in the US rose dramatically in 2021, setting an all-time high of almost 11,000 incidents. So says an FBI annual hate crimes report.
Worst of all, the number could be substantially higher as an unknown number of hate crimes go unreported.
The latest FBI report was released in December of last year and its initial vs final figures for the previous year showed that data gathering could still be improved.
Initially, the number of hate crimes for the previous year was pegged at 7,262, but this was later adjusted to 10,840. That final figure showed a 31 percent increase from the 2020 figure of 8,263.
Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, said the year-on-year hike in hate crimes was the highest in more than three decades.
Levin told media organization this month that the rise in hate crimes represented “a horrifying new era that we’re in with elevated historic levels across many years.”
The top five bias categories in the FBI report were anti-Asian, anti-Black, anti-White, anti-gay males, and anti-Jews.
Anti-Asian bias incidents soared by 167 percent, but “there was an explosion of racial hatred across the board,” said Levin.
Hate crime is defined by the FBI as any criminal offense motivated by “the offender’s bias(es) against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.” The most commonly reported hate crimes in the previous year were intimidation, simple assault and destruction, damage and vandalism.
While the report was issued in December, last year, the FBI admitted that the figures were based on incomplete data. Some 4,000 law enforcement agencies were unable to switch to the Bureau’s new data collection system.
A senior official said they resorted to an “interim measure,” after which data was collected under the old system from some 3,000 agencies.
The increase in reported hate crimes was expected as previously police departments from California, New York, and Chicago took part in the latest report.
Data, however, was submitted on a voluntary basis by police departments, which critics say results in undercounting of hate crimes.
Data for 2022 is not expected to be released until the early part of 2024. More “honest” figures will almost certainly indicate that hate crimes against Asian-Americans and other groups have not abated.