The FBI says that in 2020, hate crime reports soared to their highest levels in 12 years, mostly fueled by attacks that targeted Black and Asian people. It was another grueling narrative to add to a year that suffered from a divisive presidential election, a frustrated response to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic tumult.
All told, the FBI tallied 7,759 hate crimes in 2020, a six percent jump from the previous years. It was the highest number reported since 2008, when the FBI counted 7,783 hate crimes. It’s the sixth time in the last seven years that the number has climbed — a 42 percent increase since 2014.
According to the FBI’s website, a hate crime is any attack that is motivated in whole or in part by the attacker’s biases against a “race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.”
Attacks that targeted Black people climbed from 1,930 to 2,755 while attacks that targeted Asian people climbed from 158 to 274, according to FBI data. A total of 773 attacks targeted White people.
While Congress requires the FBI to collect hate crime data from local law enforcement agencies across the country, the number of agencies that participate has fallen for at least two years in a row. This has led some activists to argue that America may be dramatically undercounting the actual number of hate crimes, citing a lack of police department resources used to identify and catalog hate crimes.