PHOENIX — Arizona has seen its number of reported hate crimes increase in recent years and the FBI is trying to get more victims to come forward to report instances of discrimination.
In 2020, annual reports of alleged hate crimes rose from 209 to 282 across Arizona. The state has not seen figures this high since 2001 when Arizona reported 386 instances of hate.
On Wednesday, the FBI announced it was launching a statewide campaign in Arizona to encourage more residents to report hate crimes. The federal agency said it was putting up billboards and placing ads in local media with information for how to report hate crime violations.
"The FBI continues to coordinate with local leaders from diverse communities to make sure these crimes are being reported," the agency wrote in a statement.
Over the last few years, the Valley has seen many troubling acts of hate that targeted racial or ethnic minorities.
FBI data shows 114 of Arizona's hate crime reports in 2020 involved racist acts against Black victims. Thirty-one of the state's hate crimes were done against Hispanic residents, 29 against white people, 25 against gay men, and 15 against Jewish victims.
Hate crimes cannot be criminally charged in Arizona's courts. However, a defendant can have their punishment heightened if their crime was motivated by racial hate.
Anyone who has information about or believes they are a victim of a federal hate crime should contact the FBI by phone at 1-800-CALL-FBI or online at tips.fbi.gov.
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