A protest in support of Black Lives Matter movement (file photo) Photograph:( AFP )
Hate crimes against Black Americans rose 40 per cent, while attacks against Asian Americans surged 70 per cent in 2020
In 2020, hate crimes in the United States rose to the highest level in more than a decade, largely driven by a spike in assaults against people of Asian and African heritage, an FBI report has stated.
According to the annual report released on Monday, more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies across the country identified 7,759 hate crimes in 2020, a 6 per cent rise than 2019—the highest tally since 2008.
In a year that saw huge Black Lives Matter protests highlighting problems of racism in the country, reports of hate crimes against Black Americans rose 40 per cent, from 1,972 in the year 2019 to 2,755 in the year 2020, the data showed.
Meanwhile, attacks against Asian Americans surged 70 per cent with 274 incidents in 2020 against 161 in 2019—a trend that has been linked to the rhetoric that blames Asian people for the spread of Covid-19.
Of the 7,426 hate crime offences classified as crimes against people, as opposed to crimes against property, 53.4 per cent were for intimidation, 27.6 per cent were for simple assault and 18.1 per cent were for aggravated assault. Twenty-two murders and 19 rapes were reported as hate crimes.
While crimes against black Americans did not see as large a spike from 2019, there were 2,755 reported incidents, making African Americans the largest victim category.
The FBI said nearly 62 per cent of victims were attacked due to race or ethnicity biases. Offences based on religion and sexual orientation were the next most common, at around 13 per cent and 20 per cent.
The offences were often were classified as intimidation. Of the over 6,400 known offenders, 55% were white.
The US Justice Department has warned that white supremacist groups represent a rising security threat after the deadly January 6 assault on the US Capitol.
In May this year, United States President Joe Biden signed a law that aims to address a rising number of anti-Asian attacks.
The legislation made the reporting of hate crimes more accessible at the local and state levels by boosting public outreach and ensuring reporting resources are available online in multiple languages.
It also directs the Department of Justice to designate a point person to expedite the review of hate crimes related to COVID-19 and authorizes grants to state and local governments to conduct crime-reduction programs to prevent and respond to hate crimes.
(With inputs from agencies)