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December 15, 2022 3:18 pm

US Congressman Slams FBI Hate Crimes Data As Bipartisan Criticism Grows


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Rep. Dan Beyer (D-VA) in Washington DC, c. 2018. Photo: AFGE/Flickr.

Congressman Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) Wednesday slammed the FBI’s recently issued hate crime statistics data, adding another voice to a bipartisan chorus of criticism of the annual reports’ methodology.

“The FBI hate crimes data and the briefing which presented them to Members of Congress were extremely disappointing — not just in the level of bias crimes they reported, but in the large number of departments that failed to report any data at all,” Beyer said in a press release.

Beyer is the author of the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, legislation which provides funds to improve reporting of hate crimes.

On Monday, the FBI released its Hate Crime in the United States Incident Analysis for 2021, which is accused of containing incomplete data purporting to show that antisemitic hate crimes decreased in 2021, when, according to organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), they had in fact increased by 59 percent.

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The discrepancy in data collected by local governments was caused because several states, including California, Florida, and New York, did not report their data on antisemitic hate crimes to the bureau’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), resulting in, for example, 198 incidents in New York from that year to go uncounted.

Beyer explained that the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act — named after Khalid Jabara, an Arab-American killed by a neighbor in 2016, and Heather Heyer, killed in 2017 when a car drove into counter-protesters after a white supremacist rally in Virginia — is purposed for “coordinating a better, data-driven response to prevent hate crimes” and called for progress on its “larger goals.”

“Every law enforcement division at the local, state, and federal levels should be reporting hate crimes through NIBRS,” he continued. “Congress clearly spelled this out in a bipartisan law, and provided money to help departments transition to using the system. If Congress continues to see woefully insufficient reporting of hate crimes data, we should revisit the issue with additional legislation to again strengthen the national response to crimes of bias.”

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), members of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, on Monday also issued statements, with Manning expressing that she is “deeply concerned about the lack of data reported this year.”

Smith added that the FBI “must redouble its efforts.”

Non-profit organizations have also critiqued the FBI in recent days.

“The new FBI hate crime statistics are materially false and the FBI knows it,” Kenneth Marcus, chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center Under Law told The Algemeiner on Tuesday. “The numbers are simply wrong because so many major jurisdictions failed to report and the FBI construed that failure to report as a zero.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recommended Congress and the Biden administration several solutions for fixing the FBI’s report, including legislation requiring all law enforcement agencies in the country to share data with NIBRS.

On Tuesday, the ADL noted that complete statistics would have showed “record-high numbers” for hate crimes in 2021. In April, the group’s annual audit found that antisemitic hate crimes occurred at the highest numbers recorded since it began collecting data on them in 1979. Substantial increases in physical assaults were recorded, as well as over 1,500 incidents of harassment and vandalism.

“Hate crimes tear at the fabric of our society and traumatize entire communities, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. “The failure by major states and cities across the country to report hate crime data essentially — and inexcusably — erases the lived experience of marginalized communities across the country.”

Antisemitic incidents occurred in all 50 states in 2021, including the District of Columbia. Five states, New York (416), New Jersey (370), California (367), Florida (190), Michigan (112) and Texas (112), accounted for 58 percent of the total number counted.

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