The Michigan Attorney General’s office is encouraging Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the state to report any hate crimes to its office. Sunita Doddamani, head of the Hate Crimes Unit, saying it’s the big step in impacting change.
"There are a lot of barriers to reporting. Whether they are language barriers, or cultural barriers or people don’t think they’ll be taken seriously," Doddamani said, "It’s very important to report though, because there is nothing law enforcement can do, and no message can be sent back to a hate crime perpetrator unless people are reporting."
The FBI reported an increase of hate crimes nationally, particularly targeting Asian American and Pacific Islanders. However, Doddamani said it's uncertain how many have occurred in Michigan.
"State police track those statistics by law, but the latest statistics that they publish are from 2019, and they stop with their information gathering in March of 2020, so right when the pandemic hit,” she said, "So, we don't have solid numbers of exactly how many Asian Americans have experienced hate crimes until the reporting stops in March of this year, and then a report will be published about that about October or November of this year."
Data coming from Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition which launched in late March of 2020 to report discrimination and violence against Asian American and Pacific Islanders, shows 3,800 reported incidents since its launch. 25 of those reports happened in Michigan.
Doddamani said the official data for the state's hate crimes will be reported in the fall of 2021, but notes that numbers of crimes and incidents are often higher than the numbers suggest.
"Research, studies and the Department of Justice's own statistics show that hate crimes are underreported, which is why we try to do community outreach to show people why it's so important to report," she said.
Information on how to define and report a hate crime can be found, here.