Hate crimes against Blacks, Asians spiked in 2020, FBI data shows

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There was a dramatic spike in people being attacked based on their race in 2020, according to new crime data reported to the FBI.

There were at least 11,126 victims of hate crimes last year compared to 8,552 in 2019, a 30% increase.

"It really strikes at the fundamental core of who the person is, which makes it very different from some of the other violent crimes," said Regina Thompson, the head of the FBI's victim services unit.

The majority of race-related attacks targeted Black Americans, jumping 63%.

Some law enforcement officials said the racial tension in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer could have had an impact on the number of reported hate crimes against Black people.

"He's been a modern day Emmett Till because many people have become awakened, but on the flip side. so many other people have become angered and they will fight until there's no tomorrow," said Rev. Ira Acree, who leads the National Action Network Chicago chapter.

SEE ALSO | Hate crimes against Asians rose 76% in 2020 amid COVID-19 pandemic, FBI says

Law enforcement officials tied the rise in attacks on Asian Americans to ignorance about the coronavirus. The group saw a 76% increase in hate crimes from 2019. Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago began hosting bystander training last year in response.

"We wanted to make sure that we were giving very quick reactive actions for people to take to impact someone's life immediately," said Catherine Shieh, the anti-hate training coordinator at Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago.

In Illinois, reported hate crimes targeting the Black & Asian communities remained low in 2020.

But Shieh said racial attacks are often underreported. She said there are a variety of reasons that keep some Asian American hate crime victims from speaking up.

"Part of it I think still goes back to multigenerational families and lots of languages barriers and general stigma to reporting hate crimes," Shieh said.
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