(NewsNation Now) — The twists, turns and oddities of the legal saga surrounding Jussie Smollett’s claim in 2019 that he was the target of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago culminated with a jury convicting Smollett on five counts of disorderly conduct. Smollett was acquitted on a sixth count.
Smollett testified that he was the victim of a real hate crime, telling jurors, “There was no hoax.” But how often do hate crimes happen? NewsNation found that hate crimes increased in the last year.
There were nearly nine million crimes reported in the U.S. in 2020, according to the FBI. Only about 8,000 of them were hate crimes. But compared to 2019, hate crimes grew a concerning 13%. The majority of hate crimes, at 63%, were race-based. Religion served as the motivation 15% of the time and sexual orientation was a factor 13% of the time.
Smollett argued he was the victim of both battery and aggravated battery, but those are not the most common hate crimes.
Assault, which is the more severe form of battery, only made up 19% of hate crimes and only 12% were aggravated assault. Most were intimidation hate crimes, like yelling racial slurs or harassment of a person based on their religion or race, making up 38% of all hate crimes in 2020.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, anti-Asian hate crimes have spiked. More than 9,000 incident reports were filed from March 2020 to June 2021 according to the organization Stop AAPI Hate. In March, NYPD increased outreach and patrols in Asian communities, including the use of undercover officers, amid the spike in hate crimes.
It’s important to note this data is all based on law enforcement self-reporting crimes officers investigated. It is likely more hate crimes were committed in 2020. But not every victim files a police report after an incident.