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Hate crimes hit 12-year high in US in 2020: FBI report

WASHINGTON DC, USA: A report compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealed that the number of hate crimes in the United States rose last year to the highest level in 12 years driven by a surge in assaults targeting Black and victims of Asian descent.

The 2020 data submitted to the FBI by more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies across the country, identified 7,759 hate crimes in 2020, a 6% increase over 2019 and the highest tally since 2008, according to the report on Monday.

The FBI data showed the number of offences targeting Black people rose to 2,755 from 1,930 and incidents against Asians jumped to 274 from 158.

Of the 7,426 hate crime offences classified as crimes against people, as opposed to crimes against property, 53.4% were for intimidation, 27.6% were for simple assault and 18.1% were for aggravated assault. Twenty-two murders and 19 rapes were reported as hate crimes.

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.

At the same time, reports of hate-inspired attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have also been on the rise, spurred by what many say were then-President Donald Trump’s inflammatory remarks blaming the Covid-19 pandemic on China.

Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition that became the authority on gathering data on racially motivated attacks related to the pandemic, received 9,081 incident reports between March 19, 2020, and this June. Of those, 4,548 occurred last year, and 4,533 this year. Since the coronavirus was first reported in China, people of AAPI descent have been treated as scapegoats solely based on their race.

Legislators, activists and community groups have pushed back against the wave of attacks. There have been countless social media campaigns, bystander training sessions and public rallies.

In May, President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, expediting Justice Department reviews of anti-Asian hate crimes and making available federal grants.

In May, US Attorney General Merrick Garland outlined new steps to help state and local police track and investigate hate crimes, which historically have been an under-reported crime to the FBI by local law enforcement, and called for the department to expedite the review of possible hate crimes.

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