KEY POINTS

  • The FBI is concerned about a surge in hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Director Christopher Wray wrote a letter to law enforcement agenices all over country outlining his concerns. 
  • There have been multiple violent attacks on Asian Americans since the outbreak started. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is voicing increased concern over the prospect of hate crimes as the country continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic. Federal investigators have expressed worries over the vulnerability of Asian-Americans, and other minority groups in the immediate future.

CNN reports that FBI Director Christopher Wray penned a letter to law enforcement officials around the country, in which he wrote that he is “concerned about the potential for hate crimes by individuals and groups targeting minority populations in the United States who they believe are responsible for the spread of the virus."

The letter also presented a new set of investigative priorities for the agency, including battling fraud schemes, cyber criminals attempting to take advantage of innocent victims, and the hoarding and reselling of critical medical supplies.

Wray’s letter comes on the heels of a recently released intelligence report obtained by ABC News, outlining concern about a potential surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans. "The FBI assesses hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States, due to the spread of coronavirus disease ... endangering Asian American communities," according to the report.

Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak began, there have been multiple attempted and realized attacks on Asian Americans. Assailants are targeting these victims because the virus is believed to have originated in China. Earlier this month, for example, a group of four teenage girls were charged with hate crimes after they allegedly attacked an Asian woman on a bus, hurling prejudice statements and accusing her of causing the coronavirus. One of the assailants struck the woman in the head with an umbrella, requiring a trip to the hospital and several stitches. Other attacks have been reported in multiple major cities, including Los Angeles.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes were at alarmingly high levels in 2018 and 2019. FBI intelligence indicates that 7,120 hate crime incidents were reported by law enforcement agencies to the FBI in 2018, just 55 fewer than what was reported in 2017. Between 2016 and 2017, the FBI found a 17 percent increase in reported incidents.