Lawyers hail FBI efforts against hate crimes, saying cases are significantly underreported

The New England Anti-Defamation League and members of the New England Chinese-American Alliance applaud the FBI’s new public awareness campaign against hate crimes, but warn that fear and mistrust in the ‘regard to the police in minority communities lead to an underreporting of incidents.

Hua Wang, co-chair of the New England Chinese American Alliance and a member of the Stop Asian Hate campaign, said many in the Asian American community were reluctant to come forward.

“I think it’s underrated,” Wang said. He added that many members of the Asian American community are not entirely comfortable with law enforcement for “many historical and cultural reasons.”

Robert Trestan, ADL regional director, said the FBI’s new public awareness campaign launched last week to encourage the public to report hate crimes is a “welcome move.”

But he said the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that there are more than 100,000 hate crimes nationwide each year, even though hate crimes are among the most underreported in the United States.

“Reporting of hate crimes, unlike other crimes across the country, is not mandatory,” Trestan said. “We need an increase on the law enforcement side, and we need to have members of the public who are stepping up.”

On Tuesday, the Boston Division of the FBI launched a public awareness campaign as part of a nationwide effort to encourage people to report hate crimes as the number of reported hate crimes in the United States reached its peak. highest level in over a decade.

Nationally, last year law enforcement agencies reported a total of 7,759 hate crime incidents to the FBI, an increase of 25% over the past 5 years.

The Boston area did not see an increase: Hate crime reports in the area remained stable at 427 in 2019 and 426 in 2020.

Federal law defines a hate crime as a violent act against a person or property motivated by racial, ethnic or other prejudice.

Carlos Cuevas, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice and co-director of the Violence and Justice Research Laboratory at Northeastern University, said “hate crime statistics are just the tip of a huge iceberg” .

“People who experience [these sort] hate crimes are really, really reluctant to report to the police, ”Cuevas said. “A hate crime is not only an offense against an individual, it is also intended to instill fear in this community.

Deputy Special Agent in charge of the FBI Boston office, Matthew Giacobbi, told GBH News the office recognizes hate crimes are underreported and that is why it is launching the campaign with placarded ads in the north. – is on digital billboards, radio, streaming services, social media and gas stations.


“One of the main reasons for this public awareness campaign is to spread the word, educate people and encourage reporting,” Giacobbi said, as many victims of hate crimes are afraid to come forward. .

In Massachusetts this year alone, several high-profile incidents have been investigated as hate crimes. In August, a Brighton rabbi was stabbed more than 9 times. This case is pending before the courts.

In July in Winthrop, two African Americans were killed in a shootout by a man who claimed that “racism is healthy and natural”. The suspect was killed by the police.

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About Mark A. Tomlin

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