The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law on Monday called on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to correct its Hate Crime in the United States Incident Analysis for 2021 because it understates antisemitic hate crimes.
The FBI released hate crime data that erroneously indicate that hate crimes against Jews decreased last year. The Brandeis Center believes the reason for this error was the fact that critical data from law enforcement agencies were not included.
Brandeis Center Chairman Kenneth L. Marcus protested the fact that “at a time of record antisemitic hate crimes, it is appalling that the FBI’s data-gathering has been so badly botched,” and said “the 2021 hate crimes data is essentially useless. The problem is so bad that record-high levels of antisemitism appear in the official data as actual declines because major jurisdictions didn’t formally report it.”
“This massive failure has undermined the purposes of hate crimes data precisely when we most need the data. If the FBI doesn’t quickly correct this problem, congressional committees will need to ask some serious questions,” Marcus warned.
According to a Brandeis Center press release, “in contrast to the FBI’s previously authoritative data, other monitors have uniformly reported substantial increases in antisemitic hate crimes last year. In 2021, for example, the Anti-Defamation League received more reports of anti-Semitic incidents than in any other year on record.”
The press release cited “Report to the Nation: 2020s – Dawn of a Decade of Rising Hate,” a study of US hate crime that showed a more than 20% increase in 2021 and another 4.7% in the first half of 2022, which amounted to a fourth consecutive increase in all hate crimes from 2020 to 2021, including a 59% increase in antisemitic hate crimes.
However, a significant decrease in local law enforcement reporting of crime data has led federal data to falsely indicate there were fewer antisemitic hate crimes in 2021 than in 2020.
But even the FBI’s incomplete 2021 data indicate that hate crimes perpetrators chose their victims because they believed the victims were Jewish more often than any other religious group, averaging dozens of antisemitic hate crimes per month. This made 2021 the third-worst year for hate crimes in America in the past ten years. But the reality on the ground was much worse, according to the Brandeis Center, which claims the new FBI report significantly understates the prevalence of hate crimes in America in 2021, particularly antisemitic hate crimes.
FBI reports rely on data which is voluntarily provided by local law enforcement agencies. For 2020, the FBI reported that 15,138 agencies provided data. For 2021, this number plummeted to 11,883 agencies – down more than 20%.
Worse yet, the agencies that stopped providing data to the FBI in 2021 have jurisdiction over the areas where most American Jews live: California, Florida, New Jersey, and New York – where four of the largest decreases in reporting have taken place.
New York City’s public statistics, for instance, reported 198 antisemitic hate crimes in 2021––more than in all of New York State in 2020. But none of those 198 incidents are included in this year’s federal reporting. Los Angeles is also entirely absent from the federal data, even though Los Angeles County also reported an increase in antisemitic hate crimes from 2020 to 2021.
“During an epidemic of antisemitism and other forms of violent hate, Americans need accurate information,” the Brandeis Center noted, insisting that “the FBI must take whatever measures are necessary to correct this misleading report.”
“If the data are wrong because the FBI allowed data to be submitted only through its National Incident-Based Reporting System, it must allow law enforcement agencies to submit correct data in other ways, as it has done in the past, and publish corrected results. Hate crimes are too dangerous to let such a materially inaccurate report stand,” the Brandeis Center warned.