WASHINGTON (AFP) - Reported hate crimes in the US, in particular targeting African Americans and Asian Americans, surged in 2020, according to statistics released on Monday (Aug 30) by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In a year that saw huge Black Lives Matter protests which helped force a reckoning on racism, reports of hate crimes against Black Americans rose 40 per cent, from 1,972 to 2,755, the data showed.
Meanwhile, attacks against Americans of Asian heritage surged 70 per cent with 274 incidents in 2020 against 161 in 2019, seemingly confirming a trend reported by the community since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The statistics spotlight the urgent need for a comprehensive response, Attorney-General Merrick Garland said.
The FBI said hasty conclusions should not to be drawn, pointing out that over time, different levels of public participation could be behind the alarming data.
More than half of the reported offences were intimidation. But 18 per cent of the attacks were serious assaults and 22 homicides were motivated by hate.
The latter figure is lower than the 52 murders recorded in 2019, a year of mourning for the El Paso shooting on the border with Mexico which killed 23 victims, mostly Hispanics.
In the United States, "hate-motivated crime" usually refers to an act directed against a person because of certain characteristics of their identity.
This aggravating circumstance automatically results in a heavier sentence, but it is difficult to prove in court.