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Hate crimes at highest level since 2008: FBI

Hate crimes at highest level since 2008: FBI
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Reported hate crimes in the U.S. reached their highest level last year since 2008, according to an FBI report released Monday.

The country’s participating law enforcement agencies documented 7,314 hate crimes last year, almost reaching the 7,783 recorded in 2008. 

The FBI reported the most hate-motivated killings, at 51, since the bureau began recording the data in the early 1990s, according to an Associated Press analysis of the data. 

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The 51 killings classified as hate-based included the deaths of 22 people in the August 2019 shooting in El Paso, Texas, in which the suspect targeted Mexicans at a Walmart. 

The bureau defines hate crimes as offenses motivated by bias based on a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation or other categories. 

The FBI determined an almost 7 percent increase in religion-based hate crimes, with 953 reports of crimes targeting Jews and Jewish institutions in 2019. The year prior the bureau reported 835 crimes against Jews and Jewish institutions. 

Crimes against African Americans decreased slightly to 1,930 from 1,943 in 2018. But crimes against Hispanic people jumped to 527 last year from 485 the previous year. Crimes based on sexual orientation remained at the same level with one fewer crime in 2019 compared to 2018. 

While law enforcement recorded an increase in hate crimes last year, only 2,172 of the about 15,000 participating agencies reported hate crime data to the bureau, according to the AP analysis. Many of the agencies  about 86 percent — appeared not to report any hate crime incidents, and the number of participating police departments decreased from 2018. 

Several advocacy groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, requested an improved data collection system for hate crimes in response to the data release, as experts indicate the current data is likely incomplete because it’s based on voluntary reporting. 

Anti-Defamation League President Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement that one individual targeted in a hate crime “hurts the whole community.” 

“The total severity of the impact and damage caused by hate crimes cannot be fully measured without complete participation in the FBI’s data collection process,” he said.