We all know that our national hate crime data are neither accurate nor representative—in other words, bad. Some folks attribute the issue of bad data to underreporting on the part of victims to law enforcement. But that is only part of the story. Another significant cause of bad hate crime data is the failure of law enforcement to respond to hate crimes, to report hate crimes, collect hate crime data, and forward that data to the FBI. The result is a severe undercount in our federal statistics: when comparing the FBI’s annual hate crime report to a national survey conducted by the Department of Justice, federal statistics capture about one percent of violent hate crimes that likely occur in the United States each year. This discrepancy alone is staggering, but when we put a face to that 99 percent or unreported hate crimes, it is shattering. As an op-ed published in the Washington Post this week from our Executive Director highlighted, the 2017 killing of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, was not reported as a hate crime in the state’s annual crime statistics, all but guaranteeing the incident will not be reflected in the FBI’s report. As our recently published hate crime report found, the 2016 murder of Khalid Jabara was also not reported in hate crime statistics. Omissions like these are inexcusable. But solutions do exist. Read our op-ed.

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