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The FBI’s latest annual report on hate crimes seemed to deliver more grim news about race relations in America, announcing a nearly 40% rise in anti-black hate crimes in 2020. Major news outlets trumpeted the headline-grabbing statistic, noting that it coincided with a rise in “ white nationalism ” and came amid a surge in anti-black “ hostility ” caused by summer 2020 protests. Attorney General Merrick Garland quickly promised “a comprehensive response” by the Department of Justice.
But a closer look at the data reveals a more complicated picture. Some of the biggest increases in anti-black hate crimes occurred in Democratic Party strongholds yet, perhaps surprisingly, almost no increases were reported in major cities riven by the racially tinged protests and riots after George Floyd’s murder. It’s no surprise, then, that experts caution against using these numbers to claim an epidemic of anti-black crime – both because of the FBI data’s limitations, as well as the small absolute and relative size of the reported increase.
The recent FBI dataset tallies reported hate crimes, not the number proven in court. It’s unknown whether the “true” number of hate crimes committed in 2020 is higher or lower than the FBI’s reported […]
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