Maryland police departments reported 40 hate crimes last year, about twice as many as they reported in 2019, and more than one-third of those crimes targeted African Americans, according to a new FBI survey.
In addition to 14 hate crimes against African Americans, five crimes targeted whites, four targeted gay men and three targeted Hispanics and Latinos, according to the survey. Four crimes targeted people of multiple races.
Some 150 police departments in Maryland responded to the FBI’s annual survey on hate crimes, but most said they saw no hate crimes. The 40 crimes came from 14 police departments, including Baltimore city and county, Annapolis, Anne Arundel, Frederick and Harford.
Baltimore County reported the largest portion, with seven racially motivated hate crimes followed by Prince George’s County with four.
Nationally, some 15,000 local police departments reported 7,759 hate crimes in 2020, a 6% increase from 2019, according to the FBI survey.
“Hate crimes are the tip of the iceberg, so when we see an uptick in hate crimes we are likely also experiencing an increase in hateful and aggressive behavior across the social spectrum,” said the Rev. Kobi Little, president of the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP. “It’s incumbent upon all of us to weave more love and understanding into the social fabric.”
The threat of racially motivated violence against Asian Americans drew widespread attention earlier this year after six Asian women were gunned down at spas in Atlanta. The violence prompted Asian American families in Maryland and across the country to speak out about the slurs, insults and threats they face, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.
In June, city leaders in Baltimore announced that charges against Darryl Doles, 50, of Northeast Baltimore, for allegedly ransacking liquor stores owned by Asian Americans and bashing two Korean sisters in the head with a cinder block were being upgraded to hate crimes and attempted murder
Authorities, however, say too many hate crimes go unreported. The FBI plans to launch a public awareness campaign next week with radio commercials and advertisements on city buses encouraging people to report these crimes. Officials plan to post fliers in Asian and Latino markets, too.
“Over the last five years, there’s been a 25% increase in reported hate crimes, even still, the vast majority of these crimes are going underreported and that needs to change. The FBI can help, but only if we know about the crime,” said Thomas Sobocinski, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore field office.
“Violent acts motivated by hate have no place in our society,” he said. “Every person has the right to live without fear of violence or intimidation and we will continue to hold those accountable whose hate-filled aggression violates the civil rights of another individual.”
Hate crimes may be reported to the FBI by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or sending information to tips.fbi.gov.