2019 FBI Hate Crime Statistics Indicate Need for Passage of Jabara-Heyer Hate Crimes Act

November 24, 2020

For Immediate Release

David Inoue, Executive Director dinoue@jacl.org, 202-607-7273

Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs sbaker@jacl.org


Last week, the FBI released its Hate Crimes Statistics Act (HCSA) report that revealed 2019 reached a high not seen in over a decade. For the fourth year in a row, hate crimes have risen to record highs, with race-based hate crimes continuing to encompass the majority. It should be noted that FBI data is imperfect; law enforcement is currently not required to report hate crime data to the FBI. Fewer agencies reported data in 2019 than 2018, with the state of Alabama having reported zero hate crime incidents.

There are additional reasons why the FBI hate crimes data is far from accurate. Many officers do not receive adequate training to properly classify what is and is not a hate crime. Furthermore, communities may not even trust their local law enforcement to take action if called. 

With the narrow scope that the FBI classifies as a hate crime, outside organizations have created reporting forms for their communities to report both hate crimes and hate incidents. Across AAPI organizations (AP3CON, Advancing Justice – AAJC, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, SAALT) approximately 3,000 reports of hate incidents targeting Asians in the United States related to COVID-19 have been documented only since March 2020. This contrasts with only 179 FBI documented incidents targeting Asian and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander victims in all of 2019.

While there is no easy solution to hate crimes, we know that data drives policy. Congress must move to pass the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act to fund transitions to the National Incident-Based Reporting System, a more comprehensive hate crimes reporting system, on the state and local levels. This legislation would also provide funding for hotlines for victims of hate crimes and authorize funding for state and local law enforcement agencies to develop and adopt policies on identifying, investigating, and reporting hate crimes. 

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The Japanese American Citizens League is a national organization whose ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry. The leaders and members of the JACL also work to promote cultural, educational and social values and preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community.

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