Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Hate crimes in the United States rose to a 12-year high in 2020 with nearly 7,800 reported incidents, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said Monday.
Law enforcement agencies submitted incident reports involving 7,764 criminal incidents and 10,539 related offenses as being motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender and gender identity, the FBI reported.
That represented a 6.1% increase from 2019 and marked the highest level of hate crimes since 2008 when 7,783 such incidents were recorded.
Broken down by victims' race, hate crimes against Black people rose from 1,930 to 2,755 while the number targeting Asian people spiked a whopping 70% from 158 to 274.
That jump came in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which some unfairly blamed on Asian-Americans because of the coronavirus' origin in China. Former President Donald Trump's rhetoric about the "kung flu" or "Chinese flu" has been cited by some Asian-Americans who say violence against their group is increasing.
"These statistics show a rise in hate crimes committed against Black and African-Americans, already the group most often victimized," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. "Notably, they show a rise in hate crimes committed against members of the Asian-American Pacific Islander community. This also confirms what we have seen and heard through our work and from our partners."
The vast majority of the victims, some 62%, were targeted because of their race, ethnicity or ancestry, while about 20% were victimized because of their sexual orientation bias and 13.4% for their religion, the FBI said.
Crimes targeting the Jewish community made up nearly 60% of all religion-based hate crimes, which fell overall from 1,521 to 1,174 in 2020.
Of the 7,430 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against persons in 2020, more than half were for intimidation, while 28% were for simple assault and 18% for aggravated assault.
There were 22 murders and 19 rapes reported as hate crimes across the United States.
"These hate crimes and other bias-related incidents instill fear across entire communities and undermine the principles upon which our democracy stands," Garland said. "All people in this country should be able to live without fear of being attacked or harassed because of where they are from, what they look like, whom they love or how they worship."