Aug 31, 2021 - News
Hate crimes in Colorado rise to record levels
Data: Federal Bureau of Investigation; Note: Six incidents in 2019 and two in 2020 were not categorized; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

A new FBI report shows hate crimes in Colorado rose to their highest level in at least 30 years, with attacks on people for their race, ethnicity and ancestry driving much of the escalation.

The 283 incidents reported in 2020 represent the third consecutive year with increased rates and the sixth hike in 10 years, an Axios Denver data analysis finds.

Why it matters: The only other year with similar levels came in 1992, when the state recorded 261 hate crimes.

  • The last two years have been particularly problematic in Colorado, according to the federal data. The state saw a 138% jump in reported hate crimes between 2018 and 2019, and an additional 23% surge in 2020 compared with the previous year.

The big picture: The rising attacks in the state are emblematic of a national trend and come at a point of rising white nationalism and increasing violent crime.

  • Hate crimes across the U.S. are soaring to their highest levels in 12 years — and the spike is primarily due to assaults on Black people and Asian Americans.
  • The total number of hate crimes nationwide in 2020 increased to 7,759.

Zoom in: The most common types of hate crimes in Colorado are against people who identify as Black, LGBTQ, Latino or Jewish.

  • The number of anti-Black hate crimes increased for the third straight time, a three-fold spike since 2018 that now nears historic highs for Colorado.
  • Denver's police department reported the most hate crimes in the state at 80. The rate remained stable from the prior year but still represents a four-fold increase from five years ago.
  • In the metro suburbs, law enforcement cataloged far fewer hate crimes but most places saw significant increases from the prior two years.

The intrigue: The number of people who reported anti-white hate crimes jumped to 23 from 13, reflecting a national current.

  • But unlike the U.S.-wide trend, Colorado didn't see an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes, which remained stable.

Of note: The FBI data is likely an undercount. In Colorado, for example, only 227 of 246 law enforcement agencies submitted 2020 data, and the numbers only reflect those reported.

  • Groups, like Stop AAPI Hate, have noted that anti-Asian hate crimes are notoriously difficult to count.

What they’re saying: "This is a wake-up call that more must be done at the local, state and federal level to address the rise in hate," Scott Levin, the regional director of the local Anti-Defamation League chapter, told Axios in a statement.

  • He added: "The solution must include all segments of society united behind the commitment that hate cannot and will not be tolerated."
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