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Beyer, Bacon Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Respond to Rise in Antisemitic Incidents And Other Hate Crimes

U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA) and Don Bacon (R-NE) today announced the introduction of the Improving Reporting to Prevent Hate Act, bipartisan legislation that would strengthen credible and accurate reporting of bias-driven incidents to better respond to the national rise in antisemitic incidents and other hate crimes.

The FBI has acknowledged that data on antisemitic incidents and other hate crimes is incomplete and underreported. Their most recent 2022 Hate Crimes Statistics report includes data from just 14,660 law enforcement agencies out of 18,800 agencies nationwide, making it the fifth straight year of a decline in agency participation and the lowest number of participating agencies since 2012. Of the jurisdictions that did participate, 79 percent reported zero hate crimes. With the data they do have, the FBI’s 2022 annual report captured the highest number of anti-Jewish incidents since 1993, and according to recent testimony from FBI Director Christopher Wray that number is expected to increase in 2023. The lack of credible national data collection poses a significant challenge to prevention efforts.

“Jewish Americans are facing an alarming increase in antisemitic rhetoric and violence, and there is more we can do in Congress to better tackle antisemitic incidents and other hate crimes,” said Rep. Don Beyer. “We must ensure that these incidents are credibly reported to inform and improve the response, with the goal of preventing as many hate crimes as possible in American communities. Violence and discrimination are never acceptable, and our legislation is an important and necessary step forward in addressing the rise of hate.”

“Antisemitic incidents are underreported across the nation, and we need to ensure communities are accurately reporting them as well as other hate crimes,” said Rep. Don Bacon. “This bill will enable the Dept. of Justice to determine if communities are accurately reporting these instances. If left unchecked, these hate crimes will continue to go unreported and the crimes will continue to rise.”

“Reported hate crime incidents across the country are at record highs, with anti-Jewish hate crimes at a number not seen in decades. ADL has tracked a more-than-360% increase in antisemitic incidents in the first three months after Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7th. Unfortunately, we know that even these record highs do not capture the full extent of hate crime incidents in the country,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the  Anti-Defamation League. “We thank Representatives Beyer and Bacon for championing this bipartisan effort to incentivize law enforcement’s accurate and robust participation in hate crime reporting.”

“Hate crime data is notoriously under-reported,” said Jesselyn McCurdy, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs for The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Even though the FBI’s hate crime data from 2022 showed the highest number of reported hate crimes on record, it also had the fewest number of law enforcement agencies submitting data since 2009. We need a more accurate picture of what communities are experiencing in order to more effectively respond to hate crimes. By requiring law enforcement agencies to report hate crime data to the FBI to qualify for federal funding, this bipartisan bill is an important step towards improving reporting and keeping communities safe.”

“Full and accurate data on hate crimes is crucial to formulating responsive policies and building resources for communities impacted by hate,” said Maya Berry, Executive Director of the Arab American Institute. “Behind each reported incident is a victim who was harmed, a community that was targeted. Unfortunately, many law enforcement agencies continue to report zero incidents to the FBI or fail to report at all. Now, by compelling law enforcement agencies to accurately report hate crime data to the FBI for eligibility for federal funding, the Improving Reporting to Prevent Hate Act works to close these gaps. We welcome this bipartisan effort from Representatives Don Beyer and Don Bacon to not only address the underreporting of hate crimes but also improve accountability, helping to better safeguard our communities.”

“As the United States experiences an extraordinary surge in hate-fueled violence, American Jewish Committee (AJC) applauds law enforcement agencies for their diligence and commitment. Fifty-five percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes target Jews, though Jews comprise roughly two percent of the population,” said Ted Deutch, CEO of the American Jewish Committee. “We appreciate Rep. Don Beyer and Rep. Bacon for their bipartisan leadership on this issue. AJC’s recently published State of Antisemitism in America report found that 9 in 10 Americans believe law enforcement should be required to report hate crimes to a federal government database. Incentives like those included in this bill can drive law enforcement agencies to prioritize the reporting of hate crimes, while also addressing challenges law enforcement agencies face in properly reporting hate crimes.”

“As dire as the data on hate crimes and bias incidents in our country is, the unfortunate truth is that the reality is likely worse: Each year, fewer and fewer law enforcement agencies report any such crimes and incidents to the FBI, leaving huge gaps in our knowledge about the lived experiences of marginalized communities,” said Mannirmal Kaur, Research and Policy Manager for the Sikh Coalition. “Mandating the reporting of hate crimes and bias incidents is one of the strongest policy steps that the federal government could take towards truly understanding the scope of hate-motivated violence and crimes. Doing so will in turn allow us to effectively diagnose where we most urgently need to strengthen laws and statutes, invest in front-end prevention, and take other actions to make our communities safer.”

“Hate crimes not only impact the individual victims but also create fear and insecurity for entire communities. With anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes at record levels, much more needs to be done at all levels of government,” said David Stacy, Vice President for Government Affairs for the Human Rights Campaign. “In order to effectively address bias-motivated crimes, we need to have solid data to focus prevention efforts and address community concerns. We welcome the bipartisan effort of Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Don Bacon (R-NE) to introduce the ‘Improving Reporting To Prevent Hate Act’ which would significantly bolster the reporting and quality of hate crimes data.”

“In recent years, our nation has witnessed a surge in hate-based violence, with a significant proportion of these incidents targeting African American communities. The ‘Improving Reporting to Prevent Hate Act of 2024’ represents a critical step forward in addressing our nation’s epidemic of hate and fulfilling our commitment to justice and equity," said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “By enhancing our ability to accurately report and educate against hate crimes, this legislation not only confronts the symptoms of hate but addresses its roots. We stand in full support, ready to work alongside all stakeholders to see it enacted and effectively implemented.”

“Every person in America deserves to live free from hate violence,” said Sakira Cook, Federal Policy Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Today, across our nation, we’re seeing a historic level of hate crimes and, unfortunately, the current reporting of hate crime data is completely voluntary – with dozens of major cities either failing to report any data or affirmatively reporting zero hate crimes to the FBI. This essential bipartisan legislation takes an important step toward addressing our nation’s hate crime crisis by requiring law enforcement agencies to accurately report hate crime data to the FBI in order to qualify for federal funding. We applaud the leadership of Reps. Don Beyer and Don Bacon for introducing the Improving Reporting to Prevent Hate Act and look forward to working together to ensure its passage.”

The Improving Reporting to Prevent Hate Act would require the Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop a system to assess whether localities are reporting credible and accurate data on bias-driven incidents. If a locality is found to not be reporting credible data or fails to provide any data at all, it would be required to conduct community education and awareness initiatives in order to maintain eligibility for certain federal funding allocations.

Text of the Improving Reporting to Prevent Hate Act is available here.

Beyer is the author of the bipartisan, bicameral Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, signed into law by President Biden in 2021 as part of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.