The FBI and other police forces are facing criticism for levels of reporting of hate crimes that remain abysmally low, despite several attempts by Congress to highlight the outrages.
Asian American community leaders expressed dismay on Wednesday, a day after the shootings at three massage parlors, that the discrimination and harassment historically faced by their communities continued to be downplayed.
“It’s taken six Asian American women dying in one day to get people to pay attention to this,” Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) told the Guardian. “Record keeping of hate crimes against Asian Americans is so low because they are not even willing to accept that we are discriminated against and harassed because of our race.”
In the latest statistics for hate crimes compiled by the FBI for 2019, a total of 4,930 victims were identified where race or ethnicity was the motive. Of those, 4.4% were victims of anti-Asian bias, compared with 48.5% of anti-black and 14.1% of anti-Hispanic bias.
The data is widely accepted to be a gross understatement of the hate crime problem in America today, including for Asian Americans. A federal law has been in place since 1990 requiring records to be kept on hate crimes, but it is largely ineffective as individual police forces are under no obligation to participate.
As a result, almost 90% of the law enforcement organizations involved in the 2019 hate crimes study reported no incidents at all – a blank filing that many civil rights advocates regard as frankly unbelievable. On top of that, a federal report released in February found that more than 40% of hate crimes are never reported to authorities.
“We don’t even have a clear picture of the true amount of hate crime in the US. The FBI can tell you how many bank robberies occurred last year, but they can’t tell you a real assessment of bias crimes,” said Michael German of the Brennan Center for Justice who worked in the 1990s as an undercover FBI agent infiltrating white supremacist groups.
German pointed out that between 2017 and 2018 there were 230,000 violent hate crimes, according to a Department of Justice survey of victims. Yet over the same period the DoJ only prosecuted 50 hate crime cases.
Read more of Ed Pilkington’s report here: FBI under pressure to tackle anti-Asian hate crime in wake of Atlanta shootings