A new report by the Movement Advancement Project exposes the inconsistency of American hate crime laws. The report, first shared with The Associated Press, highlights gaps in hate crime legislation that make it hard to address bias-motivated violence.
The group’s review of hate crime laws across the country found that legal protections meant to shield racially marginalized groups are actually less effective because of bias within the American criminal justice system.
The group worked with 15 national civil rights organizations and found that some laws can potentially discourage people from reporting hate crimes due to flaws in the way crime data is collected and reported.
“We really think this is the first report to bring together a state-by-state analysis along so many dimensions … with a focus on racial justice and criminal justice reform,” Naomi Goldberg, LGBTQ program director for the Movement Advancement Projected told The AP.
The group’s report comes after a year-long spike in hate crimes across the US. According to the FBI, the US saw a ten-year high in reported hate crimes last year. Targeted violence against people of Asian rose significantly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report also found that at least 13 states reported Black people committed hate crimes at a rate nearly 1.6 to 3.6 times the state’s Black population despite white people being listed as the majority of offenders nationwide.
“These repeated disparities .... show that –– despite the fact that people of color are far more likely to be the victims of hate violence –– the instances of hate violence that are actually documented by police … are disproportionately those alleged to have been committed by Black people,” the report reads.
To combat the disparities of the laws, the group recommends establishing non-criminal punishments and allowing for civil courts to handle hate crime statute violations. The group also suggests investment in programs to reduce poverty to combat systemic racism.