FBI: Six Percent Increase in Hate Crimes in 2020

Pride Liberation March in Denver
The FBI’s new report shows an increase in hate crimes based on sexual orientation.
REUTERS/Kevin Mohatt

Hate crimes targeting Asian and Black individuals soared across the nation last year and there was a slight uptick in hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation, according to the FBI, which reported an overall six percent increase in hate crimes in 2020.

The FBI’s latest annual report on hate crimes shows that out of approximately 7,554 single-incident hate crime offenses logged in the US, 61.9 percent of victims last year were targeted based on their race, ethnicity, or ancestry; at least 20.5 percent of victims were targeted based on their sexual orientation; and 2.5 percent of the attacks were fueled by gender identity-related bias. Religious bias accounted for 13.4 percent of hate crimes compared to one percent for disability bias and 0.7 percent for gender bias. Overall, the numbers showed a six percent increase in bias-related attacks since 2019.

Compared to last year’s report, the number of bias-related incidents aimed at a person’s sexual orientation in 2020 jumped by 3.5 percentage points, while crimes directed at an individual’s gender identity slightly decreased by 0.3 percent.

Notably, there were a whopping 2,755 hate crimes against Black individuals, representing by far the largest share of bias incidents against any group. There were 649 incidents targeting gay men, 279 targeting LGBTQ people in general, 274 anti-Asian attacks, 196 anti-trans incidents, and 99 anti-lesbian hate crimes, according to the FBI. There were 40 incidents targeting gender non-conforming people and 16 anti-bisexual hate crimes.

“These statistics show a rise in hate crimes committed against Black and African-Americans, already the group most often victimized,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a written statement. “Notably, they show a rise in hate crimes committed against members of the Asian-American Pacific Islander community. This also confirms what we have seen and heard through our work and from our partners.”

“At my direction, the department has rededicated itself to combatting unlawful acts of hate, including by improving incident reporting, increasing law enforcement training and coordination at all levels of government, prioritizing community outreach and making better use of civil enforcement mechanisms. All of these steps share common objectives: deterring hate crimes and bias-related incidents, addressing them when they occur, supporting those victimized by them and reducing the pernicious effects these incidents have on our society.”

The report’s statistics on racial bias and anti-LGBTQ incidents highlight the realities for those who are are at the most vulnerable intersections of violence — especially at a time when Black and Latinx transgender women are disproportionately impacted by these assaults. A New Jersey man was recently arrested for fatally shooting Shai Vanderpump, a Black transgender woman and prominent LGBTQ rights advocate. Officials and advocacy groups believe the attack was motivated by hate and are collaborating on the investigation.

Approximately 53.4 percent of hate crimes recorded in 2020 were for intimidation, while 27.6 were for simple assault and 18.1 percent were for aggravated assault. According to the FBI, 22 and 19 rapes were reported as hate crimes. The data also shows that vandalism accounted for 76.4 percent of hate crimes in the US, while 23.6 percent included robbery, burglary, arson, and other offenses.

As of late, there have been back-to-back reports of LGBTQ Pride Flags being torn down in the US. Earlier this month, an individual riding a scooter with a friend pulled up to a home in Queens and ripped down a Pride Flag before stomping all over it and taking off. This incident came within days of a report from the Blacksburg Police Department in Virginia that said vandals removed a Rainbow Flag and replaced it with a Confederate flag at Wesley at Virginia Tech, a United Methodist Ministry near the public university.

The FBI reports that 28.3 percent of these incidents take place in or near homes, while approximately 20 percent arise on highways, roads, alleys, and streets. According to California Highway Patrol, in March, Rayanna Pardo, a Latinx transgender woman, was fatally struck by a car in Los Angeles. The woman was allegedly fleeing a group of anti-trans harassers when she was hit by the vehicle.

The FBI’s latest report follows one of the deadliest years on record against the transgender, non-binary, and gender-non-conforming community, with more than 30 trans deaths reported since the start of 2021.

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