Feb 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Record-breaking hate crime spree in major cities

Reports of hate crimes skyrocketed in 2021 in more than a dozen of America’s largest cities, with a record number of Asian Americans saying they were targeted, according to a preliminary analysis of the data.

Why it matters: The unpublished study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic and as police departments have improved record-keeping.

  • Law enforcement agencies typically define hate crimes as violent acts in which the perpetrators' actions are based on a bias against the victim’s race, color, sexuality, religion, or national origin.

By the numbers: An analysis of 14 major metropolitan areas with fully and partly reported data found that hate crimes surged 46% from the previous year.

  • New York City reported a 96% increase as Jewish Americans remained the most targeted group.
  • Los Angeles experienced a 71% spike as it recorded the largest number of hate crimes in any U.S. city this century.
  • The total number of reported hate crimes in those U.S. cities jumped to 2,019 from 1,380.
  • Phoenix and Sacramento haven't reported their total numbers yet.

The intrigue: Though Black Americans remained the most targeted group in most cities, anti-Asian American hate crimes increased 339% in 2021, the preliminary report found.

  • Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City broke records with the number of hate crimes against Asian Americans, while Georgia saw the largest number of fatal events with six Asian women murdered in two attacks.
  • In New York City, the number of anti-Asian American hate crimes jumped from 30 in 2020 to 133 last year.

Don't forget: Anti-Asian racism has increased since the beginning of the pandemic, with people blaming Asian Americans for the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Though Asian Americans have always been subject to racism, the majority of the last two years has been "in crisis mode," Cynthia Choi, Stop AAPI Hate co-founder and executive director of the advocacy group Chinese for Affirmative Action, told Axios.
  • "The fact that we have members of our community who are afraid to leave their homes, to go to work, to take public transportation to go to the grocery store, to basically live our daily lives is heartbreaking," said Choi. Her organization is based in San Francisco, where reported anti-AAPI hate crimes surged 567% in 2021.

Anti-Semitic hate crimes also had a resurgence in major cities in 2021, after declines for most of 2020.

What they're saying: Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State University, told Axios virus lockdowns in 2020 may have artificially suppressed hate crimes for a year.

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