FBI San Francisco announces new strategies to combat uptick in hate crimes

Officials with the FBI's San Francisco Division announced Thursday a new strategy to combat hate crimes -- this amid an uptick in hate crimes being reported against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Under the new strategy, the FBI will train more special agents to conduct hate crime and civil rights investigations, as well as conduct outreach to community groups, religious organizations, and minority associations to strengthen trust and encourage the public to report hate crimes.

To further increase awareness and encourage the reporting of hate crimes, the FBI has launched a public awareness campaign on social media, as well as through advertisements on Muni trains in San Francisco.

The strategy also seeks to work with local and state law enforcement partners throughout Northern California, offering assistance and training on federal hate crime laws. In addition, law enforcement partners are being encouraged to refer possible federal hate crime cases to the FBI, which in some instances could bolster investigations since federal investigations could run parallel to and in coordination with local law enforcement investigations.

By working with local law enforcement, the FBI will make available resources like forensic expertise and experience in identifying and proving hate-based motivations, even when federal charges are not brought.

"We understand that some individuals may be afraid to come forward to law enforcement," FBI Special Agent in Charge Craig Fair said in a statement. "I want to assure the community that the FBI works to protect all victims of crimes, regardless of their country of national origin or immigration status. Acts of hate and racism have no place here and will not be tolerated."

"FBI San Francisco is surging our resources to combat hate crimes, and we will use all authority granted to us by federal law to investigate civil rights violations," FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sid Patel said. "I urge members of our community to report any hate incidents to local or federal law enforcement so we can bring offenders to justice."

Efforts by the FBI to address hate crimes is a welcome change says Dr. Russell Jeung, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate.

"We can protect ourselves against COVID19 by covering ourselves with a mask, but we can’t protect ourselves against random strangers from just attacking us, spitting on us, or pushing our grandparents around," Jeung said.

Fear of violence has led members of the community to launch their efforts to protect vulnerable populations against crimes, such as Cali Kye Cab.

The organization pays for ride-hailing services for members of the AAPI community and is run on donations and volunteers.

Residents who believe they've been targeted or are the victim of a hate crime are encouraged to contact the FBI San Francisco Division at (415) 553-7400 or at https://tips.fbi.gov.

KTVU's Andre Senior reports.