As hate crimes rise across the United States, part of the story has yet to be revealed.
On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its annual Hate Crimes Statistics.
Crimes against LGBT people, Black, Asian and transgender Americans rose sharply in 2020. Sexual orientation alone accounted for 20% of the bias motivation in hate crimes reported by law enforcement agencies.
In total, 7,759 hate crimes were reported in 2020, a 6% increase from the year before despite the country mired in the COVID-19 pandemic. Incidents of bias broke down like this: 649 anti-gay male, 279 anti-LGBT, 196 anti-transgender, 99 anti-lesbian and 16 anti-bisexual.
The rise in hate crimes nationally comes as reporting dropped significantly in Florida. In 2020 only 452 of the state’s 687 law enforcement agencies reported hate crimes data to the FBI. In 2019, 638 agencies sent information to the FBI.
Even with the lack of reporting by Florida law enforcement agencies, the number of hate crimes stayed nearly the same. Of the 109 hate crimes, 17 incidents involved anti-gay male bias. Police departments in Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, West Palm Beach, Hialeah, Sarasota, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville reported incidents of bias against gay men.
According to the FBI’s crime data explorer, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Lauderdale Police Department and Wilton Manors Police Department did not report incidents of hate crimes against LGBT people in 2020.
Cathy Renna, Communications Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force, said the FBI’s report has flaws due to under-reporting and a lack of uniform standards. Until legislation is passed mandating state agencies report data, queer folks, Renna said, will have a hard time trusting the process.
“There’s a tremendous amount that needs to be done in law enforcement,” Renna said. “It’s a lot more than just sensitivity training. It’s about really changing the system.”
There is no doubt, Renna said, crimes against transgender people are on the rise, a side effect of the political strategy deployed in various states to curtail trans rights.
“I don’t think it’s hard to connect the dots,” Renna said. “The trans community very much has a target on its back.”
Black Americans suffered the most hate crimes attacks (2,755) in 2020, followed by White Americans (773) and Jewish Americans (676). Attacks against Asian Americans increased from 158 in 2019 to 274 in 2020. Since 2014, the total number of hate crimes reported have increased 42%.
A hate crime is defined by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program as a committed criminal offense motivated — in whole or in part — by the offender’s bias(es) against the race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity of the victim.