BOSTON (WPRI) — Hate crimes often go underreported at both the federal and state levels, according to the FBI, so the agency is launching a new effort to address the issue.
The FBI’s Boston Division announced Tuesday that it’s participating in a nationwide campaign to increase public awareness of hate crimes and encourage people to report them.
According to the FBI, there were 426 hate crimes reported last year within the Boston Division’s jurisdiction, which includes Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire.
Of those incidents, 310 were reported in Massachusetts and 14 came from Rhode Island.
“We know that some people are afraid to come forward because of a fear or distrust of law enforcement, fear due to their immigration status, or a fear of retribution from their attacker. We understand that, but please know that hate crimes are a huge priority for the FBI, and we are surging resources to address this problem,” said Joseph Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division.
“Our goal is to protect victims, help them get justice, stop violent offenders from hurting people, and deter people from committing these terrible crimes,” he continued. “With the launch of this public awareness campaign, we want to make everyone aware of our strategy to tackle this problem, and to proactively try and stop these crimes from happening in the first place. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community, and everyone deserves a voice.”
To raise awareness of how to report hate crimes, the FBI is running ads on social media and in public places like billboards and transportation hubs.
The agency also said it’s working to combat hate crimes through community outreach, investigative activity, and law enforcement coordination. Special agents are working with local, state, and tribal partners to offer assistance and training on federal hate crime statutes.
Anyone who believes they’ve been the victim of a hate crime or violation of their civil rights is urged to call 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.
Members of an impacted community can also engage with the FBI by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.