Given the rancor over politics and race in recent years and a growing anti-immigrant sentiment in some quarters, the data from the FBI’s hate crime report for 2019 should come as no surprise.
The annual Hate Crime Statistics Act report shows that 2019 was the deadliest year on record for hate crime murders across the U.S., with 51 reported – more than double the previous record of 24 set in 2018. The total number of hate crimes rose to 7,314, with hate crimes based on religion up 7% from the previous year, according to the FBI report. Of those hate crimes targeting religion, a full 63% were aimed at Jews or Jewish institutions, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s Boston office.
The FBI report says hate crimes in Massachusetts went up 10% in 2019 – from 352 in 2018 to 388 reported in 2019 – a trend that has continued since 2013. Most of those crimes reported were race-based (213), with 101 religion-based hate crime reports and 92 sexual-orientation based crime reports.
In New Hampshire, the FBI report cited a slight rise, from 13 hate crimes in 2018 to 16 in 2019.
The Anti-Defamation League has plotted hate crimes on an interactive map, with links to every hate crime law and the crime data from each state, dating back to 2004.
In addition, the ADL is calling for Congress and law enforcement agencies across the country to do a better job reporting and collecting data on hate crimes. As the data shows, the number of reported crimes is going up, but it’s always been assumed some – or perhaps many – hate crimes are never reported because of fear of repercussions or fear of law enforcement, among other things.
Looking at the data, it’s hard to know how many possible hate crimes are being missed in these annual reports. As the ADL said in a statement, the FBI’s annual report “has consistently provided the most comprehensive snapshot of bias-motivated” crimes in the U.S., “but there has long existed a reporting gap that underrepresents the true number of hate crimes that occur.”
Massachusetts has 360 law enforcement agencies – local and state police, and sheriffs’ departments – but 277 of them reported no hate crimes in 2019. That’s either very good news, that so many agencies are in areas with no hate crimes, or it’s possible many hate crimes are simply not reported to police in those areas. The FBI’s report is based on voluntary reporting by local law enforcement to the bureau.
The annual report, and the ADL’s efforts to chart and highlight hate crimes, are important tools for everyone to understand how widespread and persistent hate crimes are in America. We all benefit from the knowledge and should do what we can to address the motivations behind hate crimes.