AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Hate crime laws can be broken down in two ways across the CSRA. Georgia passed one two years ago. South Carolina remains one of just two states without a hate crimes law. But how many actually happen and get reported?
“The FBI takes hate crimes very seriously and we prioritize hate crimes. In fact, they’re the top priority within the civil rights division,” said Supervisory Special Agent Marc Benjamin with the Atlanta FBI.
New data released by the FBI shows bias-motivated incidents across the country reported by more than 11,000 law enforcement agencies. The agency said the most reported hate crimes were intimidation, simple assaults, and destruction of property or vandalism. In Georgia, nearly 450 agencies voluntarily submitted incidents. And the Peach State reflects the nation with a few more biases.
Special Agent Benjamin added, “Crimes against people based on their race, sexual orientation and religion is the top three.”
In South Carolina, more than 400 agencies reported the same top three incidents; race, religion and sexual orientation. That is a decrease from 2020 to last year. Topping the bias list last year was Anti – Black or African American, Anti – Sikh and Anti – Gay Male. The highest offense is simply assault at homes committed by whites.
Georgia reported increases in the past few years for biases with last year’s top categories being Anti – Black or African American, Anti – White and Anti – Gay Male. The offense is mostly intimidation at home and committed by whites.
“Our biggest concern with hate crimes is ensuring that the victims of such crimes receive justice,” Benjamin said. “And therefore, if you feel you’ve been a victim of a hate crime, you should reach out to the FBI.”
Under Georgia’s hate crimes law, anyone found guilty could face time in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Despite the proposed Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act in South Carolina passing the House, it stalled in the Senate last year.
If you believe you are victim or a witness of a hate crime, you are encouraged to report it to the FBI by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI.