Given ‘Absymal’ FBI Data, ProPublica Checks Hate Crimes

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Jewish cemeteries in a number of cities have been defaced, and threats have been called into Jewish community centers. Mosques have been burned in cases police have ruled arson. Two Indian men were shot in Kansas, one of them fatally, by a man who allegedly yelled at them to get out of his country. Just last Friday, outside of Seattle, a Sikh man was shot in his driveway by a masked man who allegedly told him to, “go back to your own country.” Just what constitutes a hate crime can be a matter of dispute. Because of that, the reporting about them by different agencies varies tremendously, reports NPR. That’s why the nonprofit news organization ProPublica has begun a project called Documenting Hate to track and report on hate crimes with assistance from newsrooms across the U.S.

A. C. Thompson of ProPublica says, “The FBI statistics on hate crimes are abysmal. They’re a disaster. And the FBI and other government agencies have come out and said that. About 20 percent of the law enforcement agencies … don’t participate in that data collection. And what you hear from some local sheriffs and police chiefs is they’ll say, hey, this is an expensive and time-consuming process providing these stats to the government, and we don’t get any money for it, and we have other priorities.” Thompson says ProPublica is asking readers for reports of hate crimes, “then we are dispatching our reporters to go out and say, hey, did this really happen? Did it happen the way the person described? Is this really a bias incident? And our vetting is indicating that there’s actually far more of these sorts of incidents occurring than are actually showing up in the media or showing up in the government databases.” Among other things, ProPublica is looking into reports of 250 incidents of “blatantly anti-Semitic activity in the real world – that doesn’t include online – in the three months after President Trump was elected.”

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