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Hate crimes targeting Asian and Pacific Islanders and Black Americans drastically climbed last year, according to a new FBI report released this week.
According to the data, hate crime attacks against Asian Americans rose 70% in 2020 from 2019, while hate crime incidents against Black Americans shot up 40%. The FBI combed through a total of 10,532 suspected hate crime incident reports supplied by more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies across the country.
Of those, Blacks were the most targeted group, reporting 2,755 hate crime attacks, the report shows. Overall, hate crime incidents were up 6.1% in 2020, according to the data.
On Monday, U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland, citing the new report, issued a statement urging a comprehensive response to the alarming statistics.
"These numbers confirm what we have already seen and heard from communities, advocates and law enforcement agencies around the country," Garland said. "And these numbers do not account for the many hate crimes that go unreported."
“These hate crimes and other bias-related incidents instill fear across entire communities and undermine the principles upon which our democracy stands,” Garland added. “All people in this country should be able to live without fear of being attacked or harassed because of where they are from, what they look like, whom they love or how they worship.”
In March, six Asian American women were gunned down in a shooting spree targeting Atlanta massage parlors. The mass shooting sparked protests across the country calling for an end to the ongoing wave of discriminatory violence.
In New York, police recorded a 363% jump in hate crimes against the city’s Asian American community through July, compared to the same timeframe last year, data shows. In total, at least 111 possible anti-Asian hate crimes were identified by law enforcement.
Last month, Stop AAPI Hate, a national organization that tracks hate crime statistics, reported 9,081 incidents against Asian and Pacific Islanders between March 19, 2020 and June 2021. The incidents ranged from assault to altercations involving racist language. At least 4,533 of the incidents happened in 2021.
"When you encourage hate, it’s not like a genie in a bottle where you can pull it out and push it back in whenever you want," Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, told the Associated Press. "There’s too much perpetuating these belief systems to make them go away."
Many experts agree toxic political rhetoric blaming China for the lethal contagion has contributed to the surge of hate crime incidents.
Earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law. The legislation will expedite reviews by the Department of Justice reviews of suspected hate crimes targeting Asian Americans.
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