Hate crime continues to be an issue and encompasses different acts, from more violent crimes to racial slurs.
The UCLA American Indian Studies Center is trying to bring attention to the prevalence of hate crimes in the United Sates with an interactive hate crime map.
The Hate Crime Map website was compiled using information from newspapers from across the country and sources such as ProPublica and the Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center.
The map visually represents hate crimes committed since 2016.
The center recently relaunched the website, which was originally created by activists following the 2016 presidential election. The center acquired the map in 2017.
UCLA’s Institute of American Cultures and social sciences division have helped to provide funding for the project.
Shannon Speed, director for the center and a professor of gender studies and anthropology, said an increase in hate crimes led to the map’s development.
“Until the last few years, there was an ideological understanding that the country was progressing on race, ethnicity and diversity,” Speed said.
“We had an African American president. People talked about a post-racial society. Of course, people in communities of color knew the whole time that that wasn’t exactly what was happening and that racially motivated bias was still prevalent. I think after the 2016 election, we saw not a resurgence of racial bias, which was always there, but a resurgence of openly racial basis. We really saw those numbers go up.”
Speed said hate crimes have been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The political climate really lends itself to encouraging this type of hate,” Speed said.
The website is important because hate crimes are often underreported.
“They are notoriously undercounted for a variety of reasons, because people are reluctant to report to law enforcement and because law enforcement is often reluctant to classify crimes as hate crimes because they hold a high prosecution standard,” Speed said.
“It is also true that hate crimes are defined in vastly different ways across different jurisdictions, which is really problematic. All of those things lend themselves to hate crimes being undercounted, which means that most people don’t think of hate crime as being as present in our society as it is.”
Speed said she has found that students working on the project have been affected by what they learn.
“Our student workers who are combing through press for stories have been very impacted by stories they have found and the things they have read. They have been really surprised and shocked by it,” Speed said.
“They have also felt empowered by working on the project. I think they’ve felt that it’s really important work to do, and they are happy to be participating in it.”
In Los Angeles, hate crime has been shown to be a growing problem in recent years. They have increased 36% since 2013, to 524 cases in 2019, according to a report from the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.
The same report shows that in Los Angeles, hate crimes are most often committed against people who are Black, Jewish and/or transgender.
The data on the website is meant to be used in different ways, by advocacy groups, public officials, journalists and academic researchers.
The map shows hate crime numbers in different parts of the country, breaking them down by incidents involving race and ethnicity, religion, gender and sexuality and other factors.
Visitors can see the states have higher incidents of hate crime.
On the website, victims of hate crimes can report incidents, providing details about the location, date, reason for being targeted, and demographic information. They can share this information anonymously.
One update to the website has been to allow those reporting to add narratives of what they have experienced.
“What’s great about people getting to report themselves is a lot of people in communities that tend to experience bias, harassment and hate are reluctant to be in contact with law enforcement. So, this allows people to make known what happened to them without having to go through law enforcement,” Speed said.
“I feel like people who have been victims of hate crimes want to tell someone about what happened. It’s not always the police who they want to tell. This gives them an opportunity to make known what happened to them.”
Speed said having more personalized data helps to create a broader understanding of hate crime.
“One of the problems in defining hate crimes is that many jurisdictions only define it as a hate crime if there’s violence involved,” Speed said.
“A lot of people tend to think of it that way as physical assault. What you really see in these stories is that something as nonphysical as calling someone a racial epithet or making a snarky comment about COVID when an Asian person gets in the elevator is a very real form of violence and is felt as violence when they experience it.”
The center plans to continue to add to existing data by tracking news sources and hopes in the future to create a map focused on hate crimes in LA.
“There are a number of improvements we would like to make. It could always be better and show more complexity, more depth. We will be working on that over the next couple of years,” Speed said.
To view the map or report a hate crime, go to hatecrimemap.com.