Documenting Hate

Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but there’s no reliable data on their nature or prevalence. Starting shortly after the 2016 election, we worked with a coalition of newsrooms to collect and verify reports from victims and witnesses, building a database of tips for use by journalists, researchers and civil rights organizations. Data collection for this project came to a close at the end of 2019, and we are no longer collecting tips or accepting partners.

Recent Stories

Stories from ProPublica and our partner newsrooms:

What Data?

We assembled a trove of data provided by tips from the public as well as information from law enforcement, news reports, social media and nonprofit organizations. We worked with journalists to enrich a national understanding and conversation about hate incidents.

The FBI is required by law to collect data about hate crimes, but the Bureau relies on local law enforcement to collect the data. The consequences are predictable: While the FBI lists about 6,000 hate crimes per year, a survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that the number is closer to 250,000.

The impediments to good reporting are many:

More than half of hate crime victims don't report to police, and when they do, there are relatively few prosecutions. Local police officers are often poorly trained at identifying and reporting hate crimes, and as local jurisdictions aren’t required to report hate incidents to the FBI, state crime reports often exclude many hate crimes. While the majority of local law enforcement agencies nominally participate in the FBI’s data collection program, nearly 90 percent of them said they had no hate crimes at all in 2016.