The year 2020 was incredibly life changing and devastating for many. Despite people around the world being stuck at home in quarantine on and off throughout the year, there was also a lot of racial unrest in America. When the first outbreak of coronavirus was traced back to China, there was a slew of anti-Asian hate throughout the country. Then in May of that year, the death of George Floyd sparked another wave of race related protests and riots. Race was certainly a hot topic in 2020, and was covered frequently on the news, but did hate crimes actually increase? 

The U.S. Department of Justice defines hate crimes as “a crime motivated by bias against race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.” Now let’s take a look at the statistics.

2020 Hate Crime Stats in America

The FBI released a report in 2021 summarizing the data on hate crime incidents during 2020.

  • The total number of reported hate crimes in 2020 was 8,263 (against 11,126 victims)
  • This number increased by 949 cases since the previous year
  • A victim’s race, ethnicity, or ancestry continues to be the biggest motivator for hate crimes

Which Hate Crimes Increased in 2020?

  • Race: 62% of hate crimes in 2020 (5,227) were due to the victim’s race, ethnicity, or ancestry; this was a 32% increase from 2019.
    • Anti-Black hate crimes are the highest category within racial hate crimes, and saw an increase of 49% that year
    • Anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 77%
    • Anti-White hate crimes increased by 35%
  • Religion:
    • Anti-Buddhist hate crimes increased by 200% (there were 15 cases)
    • Anti-Sikh hate crimes increased by 82%
  • Disability: Anti-physical disability incidents increased by 8%
  • Gender & Gender Identity: these hate crimes increased by 9% and 34% respectively. 2020 had:
    • 25 anti-male incidents, an increase of 47%
    • 213 anti-transgender incidents, an increase of 41%
    • 53 anti-gender non-conforming incidents, an increase of 13%

Which Hate Crimes Decreased in 2020?

  • Religion: Religious hate crimes decreased by 18% (1,244 incidents). 2020 had:
    • 683 anti-Jewish incidents (down 28%), however they were still the 3rd highest bias motivator for hate crimes in 2020
    • 110 anti-Muslim incidents, down 38%
    • 517 anti-Hispanic crimes, down slightly (2%)
  • Disability: Overall, disability hate crimes decreased by 17% (130 incidents)
    • Anti-mental disability incidents decreased by 29% since 2019
  • Gender: There were 50 anti-female incidents, a decrease of 4% since 2019

What About 2021?

  • A study by California State University examined hate crimes across 16 of the biggest cities in the country (including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Denver and Louisville).
  • The study shows a cumulative 44% jump in reported hate crimes in 2021 with 2,150 cases, up from 1,492 in 2020. 

Hate Crime Laws

Hate crimes and their illegality have been federally recognized since 1968. The latest update was the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act signed by President Obama. This expanded the federal definition of hate crimes to include more groups and removed jurisdictional obstacles. 

If you believe you have been the victim of a hate crime, you need to file a police report right away. If you have been accused of a hate crime or you think you might be soon, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.