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NEW NUMBERS

Updated FBI hate crimes statistics show 20% increase in antisemitic hate crimes 

The report, which included nearly 500 additional reports of anti-Jewish hate crimes, validates concerns from lawmakers and Jewish groups that initial data had undercounted antisemitic hate crimes

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on January 16, 2022, in Colleyville, Texas.

An updated FBI report on 2021 hate crimes, released on Monday, showed that antisemitic hate crimes increased by nearly 20% from 2020 to 2021, and that antisemitic hate crimes represented the majority of religious-based hate crimes committed in 2021. The new total — 817 incidents targeting Jews — represents an increase of nearly 500 incidents from initial statistics published late last year.

The supplemental report validates concerns from lawmakers and Jewish groups that the initial 2021 hate crimes report — released without data from areas with significant Jewish populations such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and nearly all of Florida, reporting just 321 antisemitic hate crimes — had severely undercounted antisemitic incidents in 2021. 

In the new data, anti-Jewish hate crimes represented the fourth-largest proportion of hate crimes in 2021, behind anti-Black, anti-white and anti-gay male hate crime, and ahead of anti-Asian. Religious-based hate crimes accounted for 14.1% of the overall incidents reported. The new data also shows that hate crimes increased overall by 11.6% from 2020 to 2021.

Of the reported anti-Jewish offenses included in the supplemental, 518 (60.9%) involved destruction or vandalism, 175 (30.1%) involved intimidation and 109 (12.8%) involved assault. The number of antisemitic assaults represents a 16% increase from 2020. The 817 antisemitic incidents included in the new report represent 851 individual criminal offenses and 869 victims.

The initial reporting gaps relate to the FBI’s phase-out of its previous incident reporting system, the Summary Reporting System (SRS), and changeover to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which requires local law enforcement to provide additional details about reported incidents. Despite six years’ lead time for the transition, many local jurisdictions failed to switch over to NIBRS before the 2021 deadline. 

Due to the reporting gaps, the FBI decided as an “interim measure” to accept reports for 2021 submitted through SRS for the new supplemental report, senior FBI officials told reporters in a briefing Monday morning, although some jurisdictions, including Chicago, only provided partial-year data. Chicago had joined NIBRS but did not report any incidents, a data point that had been met with skepticism by lawmakers and Jewish leaders.

The new methodology boosted participation from 63% of law enforcement agencies to 79%, representing 91% of the U.S. population, the officials said. Looking ahead, they added that participation in NIBRS for 2022 has already surpassed 2021 levels.

Following the initial data release last year, lawmakers from the House antisemitism task force pressed FBI officials to provide more complete data in the first quarter of this year.

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), a co-chair of the task force who organized the briefing with FBI officials, said in a statement the initial report was “woefully incomplete” and had created a misperception that there had been a decline in hate crimes in 2021, rather than a “dramatic increase” as indicated by the updated results.

“The mistaken conclusion reached in the original report is evidence that the lack of timely data submissions and slow compliance with the new data reporting system risks a faulty analysis by the FBI and handicaps our ability to address the rise in hate crimes and antisemitism,” Manning continued. “There is a clear need for more robust compliance with collection and reporting from all state and local law enforcement agencies to the FBI in a timely manner.”

She said that the task force will work with others in Congress and the administration to improve data collection, adding that if the NIBRS system is “perceived as too burdensome or time-consuming, a hard look should be taken at making the system easier to use or making sure law enforcement understands the importance of using the new system to assist with the prevention of future hate crimes.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that the new data “confirms what ADL predicted at the time of the initial release – reported hate crimes for 2021 reached record high levels, adding that “law enforcement agencies must urgently commit to hate crime data collection and reporting, and Congress must make it mandatory for state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding to participate in the FBI’s hate crime data collection efforts each year.”

Greenblatt’s proposal to make hate crimes reporting mandatory has also been floated by some lawmakers. Recent legislation provided incentives to local law enforcement to report hate crimes data, but stopped short of making it mandatory.

The American Jewish Committee, whose CEO, Ted Deutch, called the initial report “woefully inadequate,” said in a statement that it “welcome[s] the additional data” provided in the new report and “thank[s] the FBI for efforts to bridge the gap from the incomplete data in the report, which is the only official record on the state of hate in America.”

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