Concerned about an increase in hate crimes, Sen. Dick Durbin is pushing new legislation to require federal law enforcement agencies to do a better job keeping track of them.
The attack on Jews celebrating Hanukkah in New York City last month is just the latest high-profile hate crime to make the news, and part of what motivated Durbin to renew his push for legislation to combat hate crimes and domestic terrorism.
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Durbin said such crimes are on the rise and vastly undercounted.
"Some say some 7,000 national crimes each year reported, out of a universe we believe of over 200,000," said Sen. Dick Durbin, (D) Illinois.
On Friday, he met with religious and community organization leaders to discuss the problem and ways to combat it.
"It's time to recognize that hate is a crime," said Karina Ayala-Bermejo, president and CEO of Instituto Progresso Latino.
According to the most recent statistics from the FBI, there were 5,850 hate crimes nationwide in 2015 and 6,121 in 2016. But the numbers spiked in 2017 to 7,175, followed by a slight drop in 2018 to 7,120.
Nearly 60% of the crimes were motivated by race or ethnicity. Almost 19% were motivated by religion and nearly 17% by sexual orientation.
Durbin was asked what's behind it.
"I think part of it goes to the top. All of us in political leadership need to take care that we are more tolerant in our language," Durbin said.
"Well, look I think the most important thing we can do regarding hate crimes is make sure that we are educating our children about tolerance and love," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot, speaking to reporters for this first time this year.
The mayor added that when people see something happening, they need to not be afraid to stand up and call it out.
Sen. Durbin hopes his proposed legislation can shed light on just how widespread the problem is.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin pushing legislation to better track hate crimes
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