The Rise in Hate Crimes

Sana Shah, J1 Guest Writer

A hate crime is characterized as  “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity,” according to the FBI. News outlets such as CNN, NBC, and Fox report that the number of hate crimes specifically ones of the racial nature committed between 2020 and 2021 have risen rapidly from 2019. Between March 2019 and March 2021, there has been a 20% rise in hate crimes amongst racial minorities specifically against African Americans and Asian Americans. 

Last year, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many other African Americans were committed by the police in acts of police brutality.  These murders accounted for some of the more severe hate crimes recorded in 2020. But the total number of people killed because of their racial ethnicity are much more than what’s reported. The extreme use of hate in killing African Americans have sparked outrage and concern which was clearly demonstrated in the Black Lives Matter Protests that occured in the following months and still occur today. 

This year in March, there was also a surge in hate crimes committed against Asian Americans. On the week of March 15th, six Asian American women were brutally shot and murdered just for being Asian. On March 29th, 2021, a 65-year-old Asian American was stomped on and beared witness to being told anti-Asian statements. These are just some of the most severe incidents against the Asian American community. However, there are more hate crimes committed against Asian Americans. According to NPR, “Stop AAPI Hate, which tracks incidents of violence and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S., reported nearly 3,800 instances of what it calls hate incidents between mid-March 2020 and the end of February.”

These hate crimes caused an outrage amongst the Asian American community similar to that of the African American community after the death of George Floyd. The fear that reverberated throughout the country and both these communities have compelled US Attorney General Merrick Garland to launch “a 30-day review to assess the government’s tracking capabilities and prosecution of hate offenses that are surging across the country,” according to USA Today. This review, ordered by Garland, is supposed to examine how hate crimes are being investigated and what the government can do to keep minorities more protected from hate and keep minority communities safer. 

People have wondered what could’ve caused all these hate crimes to transpire.  White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “There’s no question” the previous administration’s “damaging rhetoric” played a role in rising hate. Basically, the current government attributes the rise in hate crimes against minorities to former President Trump’s rhetoric. Anti-hate activists agree with this conclusion and added to it by citing President Trump’s rhetoric as “incendiary” and “sowing chaos against communities of color and of religion.” Other experts such as researchers at the University of Pennsylvania attribute the rise in hate crimes and the overall committal of hate crimes due to “deep-rooted racist attitudes and bias.” The true cause of hate crimes being committed and the rise in hate crimes are very broad though and as many people say “no matter the cause of hate crimes, the life lost simply because of hate against a person is the most gut wrenching thing of all.”