By Sean Ragan | Special Agent In Charge, FBI Sacramento Field Office
OPINION – The recent rise in hate crimes across our state and nation concerns me greatly. What worries me even more is the countless people suffering in silence after experiencing or witnessing a hate crime.
Hate crimes have a devastating impact on our communities by striking fear in those who live there. Sadly, those who perpetrate these horrendous acts do so for the purpose of intimidating certain segments of our society. These crimes hurt everyone in the community. In order to stop these heinous acts, we must work together to identify and report perpetrators of these incidents. We cannot let these acts continue any longer. We must not let hate win.
As the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Sacramento Field Office, my team and I are committed to investigating hate crimes. This fall, the FBI will launch a national public campaign to elevate awareness about hate crimes and encourage reporting of these horrific crimes. The campaign highlights the need for us all to work collaboratively to ensure no crime goes unreported.
There are many sources of reporting concerning these matters, to include the news media, local law enforcement, and the community. However, these sources are only a start. In order to successfully address the threat, the FBI needs to collect specific details, which only a victim or witness can provide.
Citizens are often unsure about what constitutes a hate crime. By federal standards, a hate crime is a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity. In short, a hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. Hate alone is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.
There are often differences between federal and state statutes concerning similar criminal activity. When a suspected hate crime is reported to a local law enforcement agency, the FBI works closely with its law enforcement partners to support investigations and explore whether federal charges are appropriate. The FBI will support state and local investigations even if the act in question does not meet the threshold for federal prosecution.
The FBI needs your help in eliminating fear in our communities. Our office stands with victims who bravely report their experiences and trust us to conduct a thorough investigation to determine if the reported crime was motivated by bias. The FBI’s focus is not on the background or immigration status of victims or witnesses, only the information and evidence they can provide to help us fill gaps and hold those accountable who sow fear into our communities.
We ask that you always support each other and your community and never let a criminal mute your voice. Hate is only emboldened by silence.
If you believe you are a victim or a witness of a hate crime, we encourage you to report it to the FBI by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or submitting a tip at https://tips.fbi.gov/. You can make a report anonymously. You can also review statistical reporting as detailed in the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer, https://crime-data-explorer.fr.cloud.gov/pages/explorer/crime/hate-crime.
If you would like to learn more about federal hate crime statutes and state hate crime laws, the United States Department of Justice website at https://www.justice.gov/hatecrimes/laws-and-policies is a beneficial resource.