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Hate crimes in the U.S. in 2020 reached their highest level in the last 12 years, with Black and Asian victims seeing a surge in assaults, according to FBI data.

There were 7,759 total hate crimes reported in 2020, a 6 percent increase from the previous year.

Hate crimes against Black people rose from 1,972 to 2,755 last year, while the number of attacks toward Asians rose from 161 in 2019 to 274, according to FBI data.

Crimes against white Americans also rose, to 773 in 2020 from 643 the previous year. 

The data showed the sixth time in seven years that the number of such attacks increased, according to The Washington Post.

“These hate crimes and other bias-related incidents instill fear across entire communities and undermine the principles upon which our democracy stands.,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “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.”

The grassroots group Stop AAPI Hate reported in March that there were 6,660 hate incidents toward Asian Americans from March 2020 to March of this year, with 12.6 percent experiencing physical assault and 65 percent being verbally harassed by others. 

President Biden in May signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which aims to combat the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans that have occurred since the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill, called the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, is designed to improve hate crime tracking and reporting by assigning a Justice Department official to review and expedite hate crimes reports and bolstering support for state and local officials investigating hate crimes.

The hate crime data comes amid a tumultuous year that saw racial justice protests across the country, a global pandemic and a divisive presidential election.

Updated at 4:47 p.m.

Tags anti-Asian American discrimination Donald Trump FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Hate crime Joe Biden Merrick Garland

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