ProPublica

Documenting Hate

Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but there’s no reliable data on the nature or prevalence of the violence. We’re collecting and verifying reports to create a national database for use by journalists, researchers and civil-rights organizations.

About this Project

The 2016 election left many in America afraid – of intolerance and the violence it can inspire. The need for trustworthy facts on the details and frequency of hate crimes and other incidents born of prejudice has never been more urgent.

At this point, there is simply no reliable national data on crimes. And no government agency documents lower-level incidents of harassment and intimidation, such as online or real-life bullying. Documenting and understanding all of these incidents – from hate-inspired murders to anti-Semitic graffiti to racist online trolling – requires new, more creative approaches.

That's why we have marshaled a national coalition of news organizations, civil-rights groups and technology companies intent on creating a database of reported hate crimes and bias incidents.

ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. In addition to us, the project's growing list of partners include The Google News Lab, Univision News, the New York Times Opinion Section, WNYC, BuzzFeed News, First Draft, Meedan, New America Media, The Root, Latino USA, The Advocate, and Ushahidi. We're also working with civil-rights groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, and schools such as the University of Miami School of Communication.

We will for the first time be able to take a rigorous look at hate crimes in America – combining data analysis, social media newsgathering, and ambitious investigative storytelling.

You can follow along with the project on Facebook and Twitter. We'll use these to share good journalism about hate crimes, and to let you know what the partners in our project learn along the way. If you've got tips you think we should share, definitely let us know.

What Data?

The FBI is required by law to collect data about hate crimes, but local jurisdictions aren't required to report incidents up to the federal government. As a predictable consequence, the FBI's data is incomplete.

We're assembling a trove of data provided by law enforcement, community groups, local jurisdictions, news reports, search trends, social media and other nonprofit organizations. Volunteers, including journalism students throughout the country, will follow-up to fill in data and authenticate the social media reports. Our database will be available, with privacy and security restrictions, to civil-rights groups and journalists, to enrich a national understanding and conversation about hate crimes and bias incident.

Documenting Hate is modeled on our pioneering 2016 Electionland project monitoring what happened to voters at the polls.

How You Can Participate

Victims: Have you been a victim of or witnessed a hate incident? Telling your story is important. Your contribution enables you, civil-rights groups, and reporters to get a clearer picture of what's actually happening, enabling us all to work on the problems at hand.

We'll treat your information with utmost care. If you've got an incident or experience to share, please go to this form.

Journalists: Reporters at local news outlets in the United States – TV, radio, online and print – can sign up to receive data and story leads to follow up on and report.  You'll  get real-time alerts about hate crimes, reporting recipes, tip sheets, and invitations to join community calls. We'll also promote stories you write using this data on the Documenting Hate site and social media accounts.

Civil-Rights Groups: If you are a civil-rights group or service organization serving vulnerable communities and you gather incidents about hate crimes and bias harassment, we'd like to talk about data-sharing – both getting your data into our trove but also in giving you access to the data relevant to your service mission. If you aren't collecting stories but would like to, you can contact us to receive tools and guidance.

Stories

On November 15th, a week after the election, we announced the launch of this initiative in a post Hate Crimes Are Up – But the Government Isn't Keeping Good Track of Them.

Since then, we've written about a surge in visits to white supremacist websites, an interview with a scholar of the far-right, the New York Police Department's rare diligence in tracking hate crimes, and a first-person account of hate crimes in our own reporter's back yard

Here is a running list of stories from ProPublica and our partner organizations:

Why Now?

Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the New York Police Department report a recent uptick in bias incidents and hate crimes. But with thousands of police departments failing to report alleged or even confirmed hate crimes to the FBI, we lack foundational information about how many such crimes occur in any given year, where they might occur the most and least, who the targets of such crimes tend to be, and how this has changed over time.

It is impossible to tackle a problem without good data on which to base decisions. Documenting Hate will use the techniques developed by the Electionland coalition to help arm citizens and lawmakers with the facts. Reliable data will help local policymakers and law enforcement understand the problem; reporting will make it hard for them to ignore it.