Phoenix is expected to rank among the nation’s top cities in hate-crime reports once again when the FBI releases hate-crime data next month. Although that status might sound disturbing, police and civil-rights advocates say it’s not so much a stain on the city, but more of a tribute to the diligence of Phoenix police and their efforts to educate the public, collect detailed information on suspected hate crimes, and report it accurately to federal officials, says the Arizona Republic.
“You know why hate crimes are such a big deal for us? It’s the only kind of criminal activity that sends a message to an entire community,” says Bill Straus of the Anti-Defamation League. “If you’re black and you read about a hate crime committed against a Black man, you feel targeted.” In 1990, Congress required the U.S. attorney general to collect data on hate crimes committed in the U.S. Now, nearly 15,000 law-enforcement agencies collect and report hate-crime data to the FBI. But the results are uneven. Phoenix has consistently reported the third-most hate crimes in the country, behind New York and Los Angeles — but well ahead of larger cities like Houston and Chicago.