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FBI report: Hate crimes up nearly 70% in Missouri

The FBI is releasing new data that gives Missouri a picture of trends in hate crimes its seeing.

ST. LOUIS — Hate crime incidents in Missouri jumped almost 70% from 2020 to 2021, according to data collected by more than 81% of law enforcement agencies in Missouri.

Most hate crimes were related to race, ethnicity or ancestry. The special agent in charge of St. Louis, Jay Greenberg, said it's an alarming spike even if it means that more incidents were reported because more victims were willing to make the reports.

"Unfortunately, we're dealing with an epidemic of hate here right now," said Greenberg. "We do believe that the numbers have gone up. We do know they've gone up substantially year over year."

Law enforcement agencies have also made a bigger effort to reach out to vulnerable communities as well. In 2021, the FBI launched a nationwide awareness campaign to encourage the public to report hate crimes. The agency even purchased ads across the country on billboards, buses, and other public-facing signage. At the same time, fewer law enforcement agencies in Missouri submitted data in 2021, and yet there was still a dramatic jump in reports.

For example, in 2021, there were 119 reported hate incidents based on race, ethnicity, or ancestry. The previous year saw 76 reports. In 2021, there were also 33 hate reports related to sexual orientation--more than double the amount the year before at 16.

In all, there were 196 incidents reported to law enforcement in 2021, which was the highest number in three decades. The FBI started collecting hate crime stats in 1991 as tasked by Congress.

Greenberg said the numbers, though increased, still maintain historical norms.

The crimes related to intimidation, assault, rape and even murder. No murders related to hate crimes were reported in Missouri.

 "The predominant number we see are intimidations as well as assaults of various types and then property crimes," said Greenberg.

Nationwide, out of the 5,781 hate crimes against people in 2021, 44.2% were intimidation, 35.9% were simple assault, and 18.3% were aggravated assault. Thirteen rapes and nine murders were also reported as hate crimes. And known offenders were primarily white at 56.1%, followed by Black offenders at 21.3%. Another 13.5% were categorized as unknown.

Before Special Agent in Charge Jay Greenberg was promoted to head the FBI in St. Louis, he was the deputy assistant director at FBI Headquarters and led the charge to elevate investigating hate crimes as one of the top priorities for the Bureau. That's also when the FBI launched the nationwide awareness campaign to encourage communities to report hate crimes to the FBI.

"We saw a real need to put some additional emphasis on there to make sure that we put some advertising dollars behind getting to the public, increasing our outreach, developing deeper partnerships with all of our partners who help us investigate this," said Greenberg. "Really just getting out there and wearing out our shoe leather to make sure that vulnerable communities feel comfortable reporting to us and that they know how to do so."

If you are ever in immediate danger, call 911. If you believe you are a victim of a hate crime of any other kind of crime that may have a federal jurisdiction, call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

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