The Anti-Defamation League of New England and members of New England’s Chinese American Alliance are applauding the FBI's new public awareness campaign against hate crimes, but caution that fear and distrust of law enforcement in minority communities leads to underreporting of incidents.

Hua Wang, co-chair of the New England Chinese American Alliance and a member of the Stop Asian Hate campaign, said many in the Asian American community are hesitant to come forward.

“I do believe it’s underreported,” Wang said. He added that many in the Asian American community are not completely comfortable with law enforcement for ”a lot of reasons historically and culturally.”

Robert Trestan, the ADL's regional director, said the FBI’s new public awareness campaign launched last week to encourage the public to report hate crimes is a “welcome move.”

But he said the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates there are more than 100,000 hate crimes nationwide each year even as hate crimes are amongst the most underreported in the United States.

“The reporting of hate crimes, unlike other crimes across the country, is not mandatory,” Trestan said. “We need to have an increase on the law enforcement side, and we need to have members of the public stepping up.”

Last Tuesday, the Boston Division of the FBI launched a public awareness campaign as part of a nationwide effort to encourage people to report hate crimes as the number of hate crimes reported in the United States rose to the highest level in more than a decade.

Nationwide, last year law enforcement agencies reported a total of 7,759 hate crime incidents to the FBI, an uptick of 25% in the last 5 years.

The Boston area did not see an increase: Reports of hate crimes in the region held steady with 427 in 2019 and 426 in 2020.

Federal law defines a hate crime as a violent act against a person or property that is motivated by racial, ethnic, or other bias.

Carlos Cuevas, an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice and co-director of the Violence and Justice Research Lab at Northeastern University said “hate crime statistics are the very, very tip of a huge iceberg.”

"Individuals who experience [these sort] of hate crimes events are really, really reluctant to report to police" Cuevas said. “A hate crime isn’t just an offense against an individual, it’s also meant to cause fear in that community.”

Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Boston office, Matthew Giacobbi, told GBH News the bureau recognizes hate crimes are underreported and that’s why it is pushing out the campaign with ads plastered across the Northeast on digital billboards, radio, streaming services, social media and gas stations.

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“One of the main reasons for this public awareness campaign is to get the word out and educate folks and encourage reporting,” Giacobbi said, since many hate crime victims are afraid to come forward.

In Massachusetts, this year alone there were several high-profile incidents investigated as hate crimes. In August, a rabbi in Brighton was stabbed more than 9 times. That case is pending in the courts.

In July in Winthrop, two African Americans were killed in a shooting rampage by a man who claimed that “racism is healthy and natural.” The suspect was killed by police.