ATLANTA — Hate crimes increased across the country in 2020 and while Blacks continue to be the single largest group of victims, reported hate crimes against other races and LGBT communities in some states have seen an uptick since 2019, according to FBI’s Hate Crimes 2020 report.
The report is released annually and is not comprehensive of the entire country, as the data is submitted voluntarily by law enforcement agencies based on offenses believed to be motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender and gender identity.
Among all hates crimes reported in 2020 by 15,136 participating agencies, 35.5% were classified as anti-Black, up from the 27% anti-Black hate crimes reported in 2019. Hate crimes against white people surpassed hate crimes against Jewish and gay men in 2020, which had the second and third largest percentages in 2019; anti-white crimes went from 8.8% in 2019 to 10% in 2020.
Of the 6,431 known offenders in the FBI’s 2020 Hate Crime Report, 55.2% were white, 20.2% were Black 1.1% were Asian, and 1.1% were American Indian or Alaska Native. The race was unknown for 16.4%. The majority of the crimes nationally involved intimidations and simple assault.
Hate crimes against Asians rise
While anti-Jewish crimes decreased to 8.7% from 13.2% in the country, anti-Asian crimes increased from 2.2% to 3.5%. Much of the recent crimes against Asians has been attributed to the global coronavirus pandemic, as China was the first country to experience the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Throughout the pandemic, rhetoric about the Chinese government’s potential role in COVID-19’s origins has inspired hate, racism and discrimination towards our Asian American and Pacific Islander community,“ said Russell Jeung, Ph.D., co-founder of Stop AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Hate. “Unfortunately, our data shows this trend is continuing today. Of 9,081 hate incident reports included in [a Stop AAPI] report, 48.1% included at least one hateful statement regarding anti-China and/or anti-immigrant rhetoric.”
Tennessee is one of the states that had an increase in anti-Asian crimes reported, going from none in 2019 to two cases in 2020.
Nearly all Tennessee law enforcement agencies - 463 out of 464 - participated in the FBI survey and identified 78 hate crimes—42% of them classified anti-Black. Eleven were reported as anti-white and four as anti-Hispanic.
Compared to 2019, 43.36% of 112 hate crimes were considered anti-Black, 24.1% anti-white, 5.35% anti-Hispanic.
Tennessee, Georgia see increase in hate crimes against homosexuals
While overall across the country, hate crimes against gay and LGBT persons have decreased, several states have seen an uptick in crimes against gay men and lesbians.
Data submitted from law enforcement agencies in Georgia and Tennessee show that crimes against gay men at least tripled in both states, showing a jump from four to 15 and three to nine incidents in the states, respectively. The states’ reporting agencies show three and two hate crimes against lesbians in 2020 in the two states respectively; only two were reported in Georgia and none were reported in Tennessee in 2019.
Georgia reports nearly 50 more hate crimes in 2020
Although fewer Georgia law enforcement agencies participated in 2020 with 401 of 657 participating, compared to 508 agencies in 2019 - the state reported more hate crimes. Of the 195 hate crime incidents reported in the state in 2020, those considered anti-Black made up 35% of the hate crimes, 20.5% were considered anti-white, nearly 8% were anti-gay men and 5.6% anti-Jewish. Of 139 offenders, 51% were white, 41% Black and 3.6% two or more races.
Compared to 2019, of the 147 incidents believed to involve hate crime in the state, the largest groups were 30.6% or 45 incidents listed as anti-Black, 40 were listed as anti-white, 15 were considered anti-Hispanic or Latino.
One of Georgia's most notable hate crime cases from 2020 is the shooting death of a 25-year-old Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, in Glynn County by a white man. Arbery was jogging in a neighborhood when he was followed by three white men, and ultimately shot by one of them.
A federal indictment accuses the white men of interfering with Arbery because of his race and color. The incident does not appear to have been included in the FBI Hate Crimes 2020 data as it is likely the Glynn County Police Department did not participate in the survey. GCPD, however, did participate in the survey in 2019.
Jury selection in the state's case against the three men is scheduled to start Oct. 18 and Feb. 7 for the federal case.
Arbery's murder led to Georgia legislators in June 2020 passing new hate crimes legislation, HB 426, which adds stiffer penalties to hate crime perpetrators and adds stipulations for law enforcement agencies' reporting of hate crimes.
"The Georgia Enhanced Penalties for Hate Crimes Act is a monumental step forward in improving data on hate crimes and creating a state where crimes that terrorize and alienate entire communities will not be tolerated,” said Allison Padilla-Goodman, southern division vice president of Anti-Defamation League, an anti-hate organization. “Yet, underreporting of hate crimes in Georgia, and nationwide, is a severe obstacle to investigation and prosecution of these crimes, which leads to a lack of accountability for bias-motivated offenses that can intimidate, isolate and terrify entire communities.”
Mississippi shows largest increase of hate crimes against Blacks
Mississippi's reporting law enforcement agencies showed one of the largest percentages of hate crimes against Black persons in 2020.
Ninety-two of 251 agencies reported 16 hate crimes, with 50% of them classified as anti-Black. Four hate crimes were considered anti-white, and one case each was reported as anti-Hispanic, anti-Jewish and anti-Asian; Half of the offenders were identified as white, 25% as Black and another 25% as multiple races.
In the previous year, only 49 agencies participated, reporting 14 hate crimes, with the largest percentages including six incidents against a person with a disability, and two each were reported as anti-Asian and anti-Anti-American Indian or Alaska Native.
Alabama agencies report most hate crimes against white persons
In 2020, Alabama reported seven anti-Black hate crimes, but reported double that as anti-white.
No hate crime data was reported in the state in 2019 as a mere two of 432 agencies participated.
Four hundred and nine agencies participated in 2020, showing 27 hate crime incidents; two were classified as anti-Muslim. Of the crimes committed, 14 of 34 involved drug violations, five were damage to property and four for vandalism.
Of offender races, 12 were considered Black, 11 were white, and six were of an unknown race.