Sep 13, 2021 - News
Arkansas hate crimes spiked in 2020
Data: Federal Bureau of Investigation; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Hate crimes in Arkansas rose in 2020 to their highest level since 2012, according to new data released by the FBI. But the reported crimes aren't as high as they were a decade earlier.

The big picture: The rising attacks in Arkansas 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.

By the numbers: The statewide total of 50 incidents reported in 2020 was a 257% increase over the 14 reported incidents in 2019. Sixty-four incidents were reported a decade earlier and only six in 2015, the lowest in the 10-year period.

  • Hate crimes against Black communities were the most frequently reported in Arkansas over the past decade. There were 21 in 2010 (32% of the total) and 11 in 2020 (22% of the total).
  • There were 274 hate crimes against Asian communities reported across the U.S. in 2020. From 2010 to 2020, Arkansas had seven reported crimes that targeted Asian people; one was in 2020.
  • Ten of the reported hate crimes in 2020 targeted gay, lesbian, gender-nonconforming, and transgender people.

Yes, but: Experts warn the data are flawed because the FBI relies on information reported by 18,000 law enforcement agencies to compile its Uniform Crime Report.

  • There are gaps in how crimes are reported and prosecuted — even within the same state.

Of note: Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a hate crimes bill earlier this year that requires offenders to serve 80% of their sentence for serious violent felonies committed against someone related to their mental, physical, biological, cultural, political or religious beliefs.

  • Before that, Arkansas was one of just three states without a hate crimes law.
  • The law has been criticized for omitting race, sexual orientation or gender identity as categories.
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