Feb 24, 2022 - News

Columbus hate crime rates among highest in U.S.

Columbus residents reported hate crimes to police at the fourth-highest rate per capita among large U.S. cities in 2021, Axios' Shawna Chen and Russell Contreras report.

Why it matters: Though already alarming, it's very possible the figure is an undercount due to victims' hesitancy to report crimes, especially Asian Americans.

The big picture: Reports of hate crimes skyrocketed in 2021 in 14 major metropolitan areas, a 46% increase from 2020, per a preliminary analysis by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

  • 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.

Threat level: The increase is partially due to a record number of Asian Americans nationwide reporting targeted crimes. The analysis reports an increase of 339%, likely due to people blaming Asian Americans for the coronavirus pandemic.

Zoom in: Our city's hate crime reports increased 4% in 2021 to 114, up from 110 in 2020, with anti-Black and anti-LGBTQ crimes the most reported.

Zoom out: That overall increase is significantly lower than the four other cities in the top five.

What they're saying: Since the start of the pandemic, advocates locally and nationwide have expressed concerns about the underreporting of anti-Asian crimes.

  • Factors at play include fear of retaliation, distrust of the criminal justice system and language barriers, researchers say.
  • Just three of Columbus' reported hate crimes in 2021 and one in 2020 were specified as anti-Asian.

To report: Call the Columbus Division of Police at 614-645-4545.


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