FBI says hate crimes are on the rise, but numbers may not tell the whole story

Splotches of paint covered up what’s left of racist graffiti Monday, spotted over the weekend at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda.

"It’s shocking and really upsetting to see," one student told Fox 5 DC.

READ MORE: White supremacist graffiti found painted throughout Bethesda

But similar incidents have happened across the country many, many times before.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7,759 hate crimes were reported nationally in 2020, nearly 500 more than the year before. Not only that, Supervisory Special Agent Leanna Saler said those numbers most likely do not tell the full story.

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"I will tell you that our concern always has been and remains, that that number is still not reflective of the number of victims that have been subjected to a hate crime incident," she explained.

So now the FBI wants your help, launching a hate crime reporting initiative aimed at building public awareness of hate crimes and encouraging people to report the crimes to law enforcement.

READ MORE: DC police investigating laundromat assault, stabbing on transgender victim as possible hate crime

"If we don’t know about it, it’s obviously much more difficult for us to address it," Saler said. "We want to bring this effort to the public, this outreach to the public, to make our communities safer for people."

You can contact the FBI by dialing 800-CALL-FBI, or to remain anonymous, you can submit a tip here.