New Jersey is sometimes called the melting pot of the nation because so many ethnic groups call the Garden State home. But prejudice and intolerance is still a significant problem.

According to preliminary State Police data, there were 1,441 bias incidents last year, compared to 994 in 2019.

The data shows attacks against Black and Asian residents increased significantly in 2020 and the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents was the second highest ever on record.

George Crouch, special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Newark, said investigating this kind of crime is a top priority for the bureau.

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“When it’s a hate crime, it’s not just an attack on the victim — it’s also where it threatens and intimidates an entire community. It’s an attack on all of us," he said.

Crouch pointed out law enforcement is concerned this type of crime is under-reported, so if you have any information about what you believe is a hate crime, report it to the FBI and include as much identifying information as possible.

Crouch said providing as many details as possible is important “because we can look for cameras out there to see if there’s any video evidence of that as well. I think as we’ve seen recently with the Derek Chauvin trial how important video evidence can be.”

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder last month in the George Floyd trial.

He said all people, no matter their race, “should feel like they can be their authentic selves out there without having to worry that somebody is going to harm them simply because of who they are. That’s not what America stands for.”

According to New Jersey’s bias intimidation statute, a “bias incident” takes place when a victim is subjected to harassment, assault, terroristic threats or other specified acts because of their race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity.

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