Press Release

ADL Calls for Improved Hate Crime Reporting in Response to New FBI Data

New national data reveals deadliest year on record for hate crimes, even as fewer agencies reported data

New York, NY, November 16, 2020 … ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) today called on Congress and law enforcement agencies across the U.S. to improve data collection and reporting of hate crimes in response to newly released FBI data for 2019. The data reveals a harrowing trend of increasing hate crimes being reported in the United States, even as fewer law enforcement agencies provided data to the FBI.

The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA) report reveals that 2019 was the deadliest year on record with 51 hate crime murders – a 113-percent increase over the previous record of 24 set in 2018. Total hate crime incidents rose to 7,314, marking the fourth increase in the past five years. After declining in 2018, religion-based hate crimes increased by 7 percent, with 63 percent of the total number of reported religion-based hate crimes directed at Jews and Jewish institutions.

“When one individual is targeted by a hate crime, it hurts the whole community—that’s why people are feeling vulnerable and afraid,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “We urge Congress to immediately pass the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act to improve hate crime training, prevention, reporting and best practices.”

For 2019, the FBI reported:

  • Race-based hate crimes remained the most common type of hate crime, as has been the case every year since the FBI began reporting hate crime data nearly three decades ago. Constituting over 50 percent of all hate crimes, race-based hate crimes underscore the importance of the national conversation aimed at countering systemic anti-Black racism.
  • A 14-percent increase in anti-Jewish hate crimes, from 835 in 2018 to 953 in 2019; 63 percent of the total reported religion-based crimes were directed against Jews and Jewish institutions.
  • Anti-Hispanic hate crimes rose nearly 9 percent, the fourth straight year of escalating numbers. This is a trend not unrelated to the escalation of anti-immigrant rhetoric, bigotry, and dehumanization in the public discourse.
  • After a 41-percent increase in 2018, hate crimes targeting individuals based on gender identity rose another 18 percent last year. 

The increase in reported hate crimes comes despite the fact that, for the second straight year, the number of law enforcement agencies providing data to the FBI has declined. The FBI’s annual report has consistently provided the most comprehensive snapshot of bias-motivated criminal activity in the United States, but there has long existed a reporting gap that underrepresents the true number of hate crimes that occur.

The FBI’s report is based on voluntary local law enforcement reporting to the Bureau. In 2019, 86 percent of participating agencies didn’t report a single hate crime to the FBI, including at least 71 cities with populations over 100,000. Just over 2,000, or 14 percent, of the more than 15,000 participating agencies actively reported at least one hate crime.  

“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,” Greenblatt said. “We are working with our partners to improve hate crime data reporting. While some of the increase in 2019 may be the product of better reporting in some jurisdictions, it is critical to improve training at local law enforcement agencies across the country. We also need to remove the barriers that too often prevent people in marginalized communities – the individuals most likely to suffer hate crimes – from reporting hate-based incidents in the first instance. In this pivotal moment in our national conversation about the importance of justice for communities of color, religious minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community, we must make combating hate crimes a top priority.”

ADL has updated its interactive hate crime map to reflect the most recent FBI data. The map includes links to every hate crime law on the books in the U.S. and FBI hate crime data from 2004-2019 for all 50 states and for cities with more than 100,000 residents. The map gives users the ability to explore hate crime laws, as well as hate crime data, broken down by targeted, protected characteristics at the national, statewide, and city level.