There has been a new wave of hate crimes since the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed. These crimes have included attempted lynchings, motorists attempting to run over pedestrians, shootings, a series of hangings quickly ruled suicides, and more. Violent backlash has historically occurred in response to slavery and Reconstruction, and it has recurred against protests and progress since then.
Hate crimes are severely under-reported. Among the reasons is distrust and fear of law enforcement, according to Dr. Jeannine Bell, Maurer professor, whose core area of study includes hate crimes. Often when crimes are reported, little is done to bring justice. This lack of justice and under-reporting remains true even when hate crimes spike. Political leaders in particular can fuel fear, anger, and violence, creating an increase in hate crimes against targeted groups through inciting rhetoric, such as what we are seeing in response to COVID-19 and protests. It is necessary to reflect on hate crimes, how they are defined, and how we address them across the nation.