Hate crimes spike in Georgia as more agencies join reporting

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Law enforcement agencies in Georgia reported nine hate crimes involving anti-LGBTQ bias in 2019 as the number of overall hate crimes in the state more than doubled.

The increase in reported hate crimes comes as six times as many agencies in Georgia reported hate crimes in 2019 compared to the year before. But the number of agencies reporting hate crimes remains below the national average.

There were 102 hate crimes reported in Georgia in 2019, according to the FBI’s 2019 Hate Crime Statistics Report released in November. That’s a 237 percent increase from the 43 hate crimes reported in 2018.

Some 77 of the 102 hate crimes reported in Georgia – or 75 percent – were motivated by the victim’s race, ethnicity or ancestry. Nine of the crimes – about nine percent – were motivated by the victim’s religion. Four of the crimes – or four percent – were motivated by the victim’s disability. Three of the crimes – or three percent – were motivated by the victim’s gender.

The remaining nine incidents – about nine percent – were motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias, the same number of crimes reported in 2018. The hate crimes involving anti-LGBTQ bias took place in the cities of Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Glennville and Omega, and in the counties of Cobb, Coweta, Douglas and Newton.

The Atlanta Police Department reported just one hate crime in 2019, which was motivated by the victim’s religion. The city reported 10 hate crimes in 2018. Several agencies in Georgia — including Atlanta’s — failed to report several hate crimes to the FBI in 2018, discovering the missing ones only after questions from Project Q Atlanta.

Statewide hate crime law includes reporting

Some 50 agencies in Georgia reported hate crimes to the FBI in 2019, a nearly six-fold increase over the nine agencies that reported them in 2018. But the percentage of Georgia law enforcement agencies that reported 2019 hate crimes to the FBI was still below the national average.

Some 13.9 percent of the roughly 15,600 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. reported hate crimes to the FBI in 2019, according to the report. But about 10 percent of Georgia’s nearly 500 agencies reported hate crimes to the FBI.

The Georgia legislature passed an LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes law in June. The legislation enhances penalties for crimes that target a victim based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, and mental or physical disability. It also calls for law enforcement agencies to track hate crimes and report them to the GBI.

Municipalities throughout metro Atlanta have also recently adopted hate crime measures mandating the reporting of incidents to the GBI or FBI, including Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, Doraville and Fulton County. Other cities – including Dunwoody, Savannah and Statesboro – have included hate crime tracking and reporting when passing LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances.

This story is made possible by a grant from Google News Initiative’s Journalism Emergency Relief Fund.

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