ATLANTA, Ga. (WRBL) – On Monday, Sept. 1, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its annual hate crimes statistics report. The report revealed that 2020 saw a six percent increase in reported hate crimes, with 195 of the 7,759 incidents occurring in Georgia.

In Georgia, FBI data shows an increase in hate crimes motivated by race, ethnicity, or ancestry, rising from twenty-nine in 2018, to 111 in 2019. Now, in 2020, the number of hate crimes has risen to 131 — an alarming 352 percent increase from 2018.

Hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation are also surging in Georgia. Twenty-four incidents were reported in 2020, in comparison to only three reported in 2018 — a 700 percent increase.

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), though, there is still a significant problem with underreporting hate crimes. Only sixty-eight of the 401 Georgia law enforcement agencies reporting data to the FBI reported hate crimes in 2020.

ADL Southern Division Vice President Allison Padilla-Goodman describes underreporting as “a severe obstacle” to the investigation and prosecution of these crimes.

Fortunately, the number of agencies reporting is up from just ten percent in 2019 to seventeen percent in 2020. ADL attributes the reporting rise to the passage of new hate crime legislation, HB 426.

Padilla-Goodman believes that legislation like HB 426 is a “monumental step forward” in improving hate crime data collection and “creating a state where crimes that terrorize and alienate entire communities will not be tolerated.”