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America doesn't accurately document hate crimes. Help The Times fill in the gaps

America doesn't accurately document hate crimes. Help The Times fill in the gaps
Demonstrators gather in downtown Los Angeles in August to protest after white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Va. (Associated Press)

Each fall, the FBI releases data on hate crimes across the U.S. Its most recent report showed more than 6,100 hate crimes in 2016, a 5% increase over the previous year.

The numbers included a nearly 20% increase in anti-Muslim crimes, a 17% increase in anti-white crimes, a 15% increase in anti-Latino incidents and a 3% increase in anti-Jewish crimes. The number of crimes against African Americans, who accounted for 50% of victims, remained about the same.

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Yet, 88% of the 16,000 law enforcement agencies in the country chose not to report data or told the FBI there were no hate crimes in their jurisdictions. At the same time, the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates an average of 250,000 hate-crime victimizations happen each year.

The numbers don't add up.

The Los Angeles Times is partnering with news organizations across the country in an effort led by the nonprofit news company ProPublica to collect recent and more accurate data on hate crimes in California and across the U.S. The FBI defines a hate crime as 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."

The Times is also seeking information on incidents involving hatred and prejudice that may not legally qualify as crimes.

Reporters at The Times will verify submissions and use them to report on hate crimes and bias. Names and contact information will not be shared with law enforcement.

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