Hate crimes against Asians rose 76% in 2020 amid pandemic, FBI says

The FBI republished hate crime data on Monday after an error in Ohio.

October 25, 2021, 7:00 AM

Hate crimes against people of Asian descent rose by 76% in 2020, according to newly republished data by the FBI.

The FBI previously issued hate crime data in August, but due to an error in reporting Ohio's statistics, the data was incomplete. The FBI has now corrected the technical problem in Ohio's reporting system.

In 2020, 279 hate crime incidents against individuals of Asian descent were reported, compared to 158 incidents reported in 2019.

More than 60% of hate crimes in the United States were carried out on the basis of an individual's race, according to FBI data released Monday.

"Every hate crime is an attack on the community," Jay Greenberg, deputy assistant director of the FBI's criminal division, told ABC News' Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas.

Greenberg said most hate crimes are directed at African Americans, but acknowledged there was an uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes due to COVID-19.

In total, there were 8,052 single-bias incidents -- crimes motivated by one type of bias -- involving 11,126 victims. Comparatively, there were 7,103 single-bias incidents involving 8,552 victims in 2019.

The FBI said 20% of the hate crimes targeted a person's sexual orientation and 13% of the hate crimes that occurred in 2020 were due to religious bias.

More than half of the offenders were white, and 21% of the offenders were African American.

This March 20, 2021, file photo shows people holding signs as they march during a rally to support Stop Asian Hate at the Logan Square Monument in Chicago.
Nam Y. Huh/AP, FILE

Greenberg said they are working to make sure there is trust not only in the FBI, but in local communities as well.

"Because a hate crime is defined as a violent or property crime with a bias motivation, that crime could be categorized a number of different ways," he explained. "We would like the public to reach out to us if they believe that they are a victim of a hate crime. It's not for the public to make that determination; we will work with our state and local partners and help determine how best to investigate that."

When someone is a victim of a hate crime, people have different reactions, according to Regina Thompson, the head of the FBI's victim services division.

"Everybody has their own way of reacting and on their own timeline, so sometimes people will react immediately in the aftermath of a crime," said Thompson, who was named head of the unit last year. "Sometimes they'll go immediately into crisis and crisis intervention will be needed. Sometimes the full impact isn't felt for hours, days, weeks, sometimes even months after the criminal event and the way that they react, there's absolutely no normal."

Greenberg said that while they don't discuss the number of cases they are currently investigating, leaders at the FBI "have brought a renewed focus to enforcing the civil rights program consistently across all our offices, and we have seen the number of cases rise in the last year."

This March 20, 2021, file photo shows people holding signs as they attend a rally to support Stop Asian Hate at the Logan Square Monument in Chicago.
Nam Y. Huh/AP, FILE

The bureau takes a victim-centered approach to hate crimes, the two senior FBI officials explained.

"The FBI does have a victim services division that is focused on assisting and supporting the victims of federal crime and that when they are a victim of a federal crime, we are there to assist them and they can expect us to do that with understanding, dignity, fairness and respect," Thompson said.

Thompson said that hate crimes are especially unique because it is a direct assault on someone's identity and individuality.

"It really strikes at the fundamental core of who the person is, which makes it very different from some of the other violent crimes," she explained. "It is an attack on something that is within the person's identity, something that's very immutable about them and often something that they can't even change. So that has a very deep psychological effect."

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