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FBI report: Hate crimes soared in 2021

By BELINDA ROBINSON in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-03-15 11:25

The number of hate crimes across the United States jumped by nearly 12 percent in 2021, as victims were mostly targeted due to their race or ethnicity, according to figures released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

There were 9,065 hate crimes in 2021 compared with 8,120 in 2020, an increase of 11.6 percent. The figures were compiled by 79 percent of all US law enforcement agencies.

Hate crimes were motivated by bias over a person's race or ethnicity in 64.5 percent of cases, by sexuality in 15.9 percent of cases, and due to religion in 14.1 percent, the FBI found.

Officials said that the largest number of hate crimes were directed toward black people, with 2,233 cases. Half of all the religious-based crimes were against Jewish people. A further 433 incidents were committed against Hispanics, and 305 against Asians.

At least 948 cases were due to anti-white bias, a further 543 crimes were against gay men, and there were 415 incidents against other gay people.

A wave of anti-Asian attacks across the US from 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, promoted concern from the community and government.

Stop AAPI Hate recorded 10,905 attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from March 2020 to December 2021.

In New York, GuiYing Ma, 61, was killed as she was sweeping a sidewalk in Queens in November 2021. She died in February 2022.

In Atlanta, Robert Aaron Long, 21, went on a killing spree in March 2021, at three local spas, murdering eight people — including six women of Asian descent.

Sammy Yuen, who lives in New York, set up weekly classes in 2021 to teach older Asians self-defense skills at the University Settlement Center in Manhattan. Yuen, who trained in martial arts for decades, wanted to help his community.

Yuen told China Daily at the time: "We wanted to help everyone feel comfortable moving around and giving them the freedom to go about their day without feeling afraid."

Last year, hate crimes continued with two of the most high-profile cases, including a gunman who killed five people and wounded 17 others at Club Q, a LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

At a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, Payton Gendron, a white supremacist gunman, drove 200 miles and killed 10 black shoppers.

Following these and other attacks, President Joe Biden's administration has vowed to tackle hate crimes.

In 2021, Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to address the rise in anti-Asian American crimes.

Attorney General Merrick Garland also announced that prosecuting hate crimes was one of his top priorities.

Since 2021, the Justice Department has charged 70 people in 60 cases with a hate crime.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who ranks as the third top official at the department, said in a statement: "We are continuing to work with state and local law enforcement agencies across the country to increase the reporting of hate crime statistics to the FBI.

"Hate crimes and the devastation they cause communities have no place in this country. The Justice Department is committed to every tool and resource at our disposal to combat bias-motivated violence in all its forms."

The figures released by the FBI are the first since it transitioned to a new data collection reporting system.

It had previously released incomplete hate crime data in October 2022, as only 52 percent of law enforcement agencies had reported their 12-month figures for 2021.

The new figures include information from New York and Los Angeles, the nation's two largest cities.

The FBI said it monitors 130 most populous cities across 16 states to identify trends and out of those cities, 96 submitted data for the new report.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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