Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta says Justice Department committed to prioritizing prevention of hate crimes
As the FBI reported more than 7,000 hate crimes in 2021 even with incomplete data, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta assured the Justice Department is committed to prioritizing prevention, investigation and prosecution of hate crimes.
In its annual report released Monday, the FBI said there were 7,262 hate crime incidents in the United States in 2021. By comparison, 2020 saw 8,263 bias-motivated criminal acts.
Read: Hate Crimes against Indian Americans continue to rise: FBI (September 9, 2021)
But the figures do not imply a year-on-year decline in hate crimes, FBI officials cautioned, noting that about 4,000 law enforcement agencies, including several of the nation’s largest police departments, failed to make the switch to the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).
“Although the hate crime statistics reported to us are lower in 2021, hate crime statistics overall are not decreasing, meaning of the agencies that are reporting to us, they are reporting an increase in hate crime,” an FBI official said during a press call ahead of the report’s release.
The FBI defines hate crime as a criminal offense “motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias(es) against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”
Under the Biden administration, the Justice Department has made fighting hate crime a priority, charging more than 60 people with federal hate crimes and obtaining 55 convictions.
Read: AAPI group launches think tank to counter hate crimesÂ (April 12, 2021)
“The Justice Department is committed to prioritizing prevention, investigation and prosecution of hate crimes,â€ Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a statement. â€œThe FBI’s 2021 Hate Crimes Statistics are a reminder of the need to continue our vigorous efforts to address this pervasive issue in America,”
“The Justice Department continues to work with the nation’s law enforcement agencies to increase the reporting of hate crime statistics to the FBI to ensure we have the data to help accurately identify and prevent hate crimes.”
â€œNo one in this country should be forced to live their life in fear of being attacked because of what they look like, whom they love, or where they worship. The department will continue to use all of the tools and resources at our disposal to stand up to bias-motivated violence in our communities,â€ she said.
Since January 2021, the Justice Department has taken a number of other actions in response to a rise in hate crimes and hate incidents, Gupta said.
Read: FBI: More Than 7,000 Hate Crime Incidents Reported in 2021 (December 12, 2022)
Some of these actions include:
- Designating an inaugural Language Access Coordinator to improve knowledge, use and expansion of the Department of Justiceâ€™s language resources;
- Launching an FBI-led National Anti-Hate Crimes Campaign involving all 56 FBI field offices to encourage reporting. The campaign includes outdoor advertising, billboards and radio streaming in addition to social media;
- Revitalizing the Community Relations Service by, among other things, facilitating nearly a dozen Protecting Places of Worship forums to provide interfaith communities with resources and information on securing their places of worship, and to help faith leaders build relationships with law enforcement;
- Adding information to the departmentâ€™s website on reporting hate crimes in 24 languages, including 18 of the most frequently spoken AAPI languages in the United States; and
- With the Department of Education, issuing facts sheets addressing harassment and discrimination in school, including harassment based on COVID-19 related issues, harassment of LGBTQI+ students, and discrimination based on national origin and immigration status.