The majority of hate crimes experienced by U.S. residents over a 12-year period were not reported to police, according to a new federal report released Thursday that stoked advocates’ concerns about ongoing tensions between law enforcement and black and Latino communities.
More than half of the 250,000 hate crimes that took place each year between 2004 and 2015 went unreported to law enforcement for a variety of reasons, according to a special report on hate crimes from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Hate crimes were most often not reported because they were handled some other way, the report said. But people also did not come forward because they didn’t feel it was important or that police would help.
The report, based on a survey of households, is one of several studies that aim to quantify hate crimes. Its release comes as the Justice Department convenes a meeting on Thursday with local law enforcement officials and experts to discuss hate crimes, including a lack of solid data on the problem nationwide.
“I pledged to you, as long as I’m attorney general of this Department of Justice, we will continue to protect the civil rights of all Americans and we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in our country,” Attorney General Jeff Session said during remarks at the beginning of the meeting.
The new survey shows the limits of hate crime reporting, said Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, California State University. “Many victims don’t report hate crimes because of personal and institutional reasons,” Levin said. For example, some Latino immigrants may be reluctant to call police after an apparent hate crime for fear of deportation, he said.