Despite the Biden Administration’s heightened emphasis on rooting out what it deems a growing threat of hate crimes, there seems to be very little trouble in Alaska.
According to the latest FBI data, Alaska had a grand total of nine reported hate crimes last year. That’s down from 11 in 2019 and slightly more than the five reported in 2018. Over the past five years, Alaska is averaging less than seven hate crimes annually.
Hate crimes are defined as criminal offenses motivated “in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias(es) against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” The crimes can be committed against “people, property, or society,” according to the FBI’s website.
“Because motivation is subjective, it is sometimes difficult to know with certainty whether a crime resulted from the offender’s bias,” the FBI website acknowledges. “The presence of bias alone does not necessarily mean that a crime can be considered a hate crime. Only when a law enforcement investigation reveals sufficient evidence to lead a reasonable and prudent person to conclude that the offender’s actions were motivated, in whole or in part, by their bias, should an agency report an incident as a hate crime.”
The nine hate crimes reported in Alaska last year broke down along the following lines.
TYPES OF BIASES
- Anti-black or African American: 2
- Anti-male: 1
- Anti-multiple races: 1
- Anti-transgender: 1
- Anti-American Indian or Alaska Native: 1
- Anti-white: 1
- Anti-gay: 1
- Anti-female: 1
This data was collected by the FBI from 32 out of 39 law enforcement agencies across Alaska.
Hate crimes have become a major concern of the Biden Administration, and the FBI office in Anchorage has joined a national campaign to build public awareness of hate crimes and to encourage reporting.
ALASKA WATCHMAN DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX
An Oct. 4 notice from Anchorage FBI Public Affairs Officer Chloe Matin said the Alaska campaign will include a statewide PR push on television, radio and websites in hopes of increasing hate crime reports.
With regards to hate crime allegations, critics note the problem of lumping “sexual orientation and gender identity” in with objective and immutable classifications like race, sex and national origin when prosecuting hate crimes. A key concern is that such legislation often uses a person’s religious views about traditional marriage between a man and woman and human sexuality to increase sentences when a crime is committed. Others note that the focus should be on the crime itself, not religious, political or social views that the government deems unacceptable.
Earlier this year, the Dept. of Justice gave the City of Juneau a $34,000 grant to train local police officers on how to identify and fight hate crime. It is part of a nationwide push to re-educate law enforcement agencies to eliminate behavior that it considers “rooted in hate.”