MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is calling on the federal government to mandate hate crime data collection at all levels of government after a new report released today by the Federal Bureau of Investigation showed the number of hate crimes rose by 3% in 2019, to 7,314, the highest recorded since 2008.
The Hate Crime Statistics Act, enacted in 1990, requires the U.S. Department of Justice to publish an annual report on the number of violent and non-violent hate crimes documented by the nation’s more than 18,000 federal, state, city, university, and tribal law enforcement agencies. This year, the report documented a record high of 51 hate crime murders, including 22 people killed at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas on August 3, 2019 by a suspect believed to be motivated by anti-immigrant racism. It is the highest number of hate crime murders recorded since the FBI began collecting this data in 1991.
Currently, law enforcement agencies are not required by law to report hate crime data to the FBI. And often, because of inadequate training or a lack of trust between law enforcement and the communities they police, many hate crimes go unreported.
“The FBI’s report is another reminder that we have much work to do to address hate in America,” said SPLC President and CEO Margaret Huang. “Each of these incidents represents the targeting of an individual or community for violence or vandalism because of their identity or personal characteristics.
“Unsurprisingly, the new numbers do not tell the full story. Hate crimes are consistently underreported due to the federal government’s failure to mandate hate crime data collection at the state and local levels. We are calling on the federal government to address this issue by implementing new policies that require all law enforcement agencies to track and report this important information to the federal government.”
Only 2,172 of the 15,588 agencies that participated in the FBI data collection effort – less than 14% percent – reported one or more hate crimes. Every other agency, including more than 80 cities with populations over 100,000, affirmatively reported zero (0) hate crimes or did not report any data to the FBI at all.
Other key findings from the report include:
Race-based hate crimes continued to trend as the most numerous, making up 3,963 of 7,314 total hate crimes reported in 2019 – the vast majority directed at Black people.
Anti-Hispanic hate crimes increased for the fourth straight year – to 527, a 9 percent increase and the highest recorded since 2010
Religion-based crimes were second most numerous, with 953 of the 1,521 reported crimes directed against Jews and Jewish institutions – a 14% increase and the highest reported since 2008.
1,195 hate crimes were directed against people and institutions on the basis of sexual orientation, more than 16% of all hate crimes nationwide.
198 hate crimes were directed against people and property on the basis of their gender identity, an 18% increase, and the highest reported since the FBI began collecting this specific data in 2013.
A full analysis of the report by the SPLC is available at: www.Splcenter.org/HateCrimesIn2019.
In September, the SPLC released “Vision for a Just America," which outlines SPLC priorities and recommendations for Congress and the new Administration to address white nationalism, structural racism and other historic inequalities. In addition, the SPLC is working with a broad coalition of partner organization to urge Congress to pass the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality (NO HATE) Act, which would promote hate crime training and prevention and provide funds to develop state hate crime reporting and victim services hotlines.