Hate crime incidents in Arizona surge to highest level since 2001, FBI says

Sep 3, 2021, 4:45 AM | Updated: 7:53 am
(AP File Photo/Damian Dovarganes)...
(AP File Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
(AP File Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

PHOENIX — Hate crime incidents in Arizona surged to the highest level in nearly two decades, according to the FBI’s annual hate crime statistics report.

Local law enforcement agencies reported 282 hate crimes to the FBI last year, up from 209 the previous year. It’s also the highest number since 2001 when 386 hate crimes were reported in Arizona.

“It’s alarming,” Carlos Galindo-Elvira, director of community engagement and partnerships for Chicanos Por La Causa, said.

“Anytime that there is an increase in hate crimes, it’s a pause for concern.”

The largest number of hate crimes targeted African Americans at 114 reported in 2020, up from 88 the previous year. There were also 31 hate crimes against Latinos, up from 23.

Hate crimes against white people rose from 11 to 29, and those targeting members of the LGBTQ community and Asians also slightly increased.

In the category of religious affiliation, anti-Jewish hate crimes took the top spot, which has been the case for the last decade.

Galindo-Elvira said he believes political rhetoric targeting certain groups is mainly to blame for the increase in hate crimes reported.

He also noted the increase came even with fewer law enforcement agencies reporting to the FBI.

Last year, 81 of the 125 law enforcement agencies in Arizona reported hate crime incidents in their jurisdictions to the FBI. That’s down from 92 that reported the previous year.

“So does that mean that there might’ve been more hate crimes committed and not reported?” Galindo-Elvira asked.

He encourages law enforcement to report hate crimes “so we can get a better picture of what is happening within our communities.”

He also encourages people who suspect they are victims of a hate crime to come forward.

“They should absolutely call law enforcement,” he said, adding that they can seek support from a local nonprofit organization if they fear coming forward.

“It’s important to get that report in.”

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Hate crime incidents in Arizona surge to highest level since 2001, FBI says