With reported hate crimes rising in South Carolina, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched a campaign to encourage residents to report crimes of discrimination.
“No one should ever be subjected to hate crimes in our society,” said Special Agent Susan Ferensic, the FBI agent in charge of its Columbia Field Office. “This campaign shows that the FBI is dedicated to pursuing offenders of these heinous crimes and holding them accountable.”
In 2019, South Carolina had 57 reported hate crimes, according to an FBI annual report. In 2020, the state had 110 reported hate crimes. The report said the number of reported hate crimes has increased across the United States.
The federal Department of Justice defines a hate crime as a traditional crime motivated by bias against race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.
The FBI’s campaign to get SC residents to report hate crimes includes billboard messages, 30-second videos on gas station pumps at participating locations, cellphone advertisements and recorded messages on various radio stations.
“Hate crimes are the highest priority of the FBI’s Civil Rights program,” the bureau said in a statement.
If a person believes they are a victim or a witness of a hate crime, it can be reported by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or submitting a tip at tips.fbi.gov. Tips may remain anonymous.