The number of hate crimes reported around the country last year spiked 13%, according to figures made public by the FBI, with a huge increase in the number of attacks directed at one group in particular: African Americans.
The FBI is aware that the figure probably doesn’t reflect the true number of these crimes. In response, the bureau is launching new campaign encouraging people to report hate crimes and provide information about them when they have it.
“The FBI defines a hate crime as a criminal offense against an individual or property that’s motivated by bias,” said special agent Wayne Jacobs in a statement by the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division.
He said that bias can be directed at someone’s race, sexuality, and religion.
Roughly 35% of hate crimes are directed at African Americans, but last year also saw a 72% increase in crimes directed at people of Asian descent, Jacobs said at the FBI’s Washington Field Office, in an interview with our partners at NBC4.
“It’s a troubling number for us to see,” Jacobs told NBC4.
The Hate Crimes Awareness Campaign will bring ads to Metro, gas pumps, social media, and elsewhere, encouraging people to report those crimes and help law enforcement bring justice to the victims.
“All too often, hate crimes go unreported to law enforcement,” said Jacobs in a statement. “No one should be afraid to be targeted by violence based on how they look, where they’re from, or their identity.”
“There’s simply no place for hate and intolerance in our communities, and we need the public’s help to deter people from committing these heinous crimes and bringing them to justice if they do,” he said.
People who want to report hate crimes or provide tips to the FBI can call 1-800-CALL-FBI.