PHOENIX — The racism that was a catalyst for the horrific attack in Buffalo has prompted a renewed look at hate crimes nationwide.
Like many states, Arizona is seeing near-record highs for reported hate crimes.
The 2020 FBI Hate Crime Statistics revealed that racially motivated hate crimes in Arizona increased 112% from 2018 to 2020.
"2020 figures showed increases in all categories - when we talk about race, gender, gender identity, and religion," said Matthew Brown, Associate Director of Law Enforcement Initiatives and Community Security for ADL Arizona.
Brown said data compiled by the Anti-Defamation League also showed Arizona had a 155% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2021.
Some hate crimes involve vandalism and slurs, others violent assaults. It is difficult to recall an attack as evil or extreme as what took place in Buffalo on Saturday.
Federal authorities say the 18-year-old accused gunman drove 200 miles to a predominantly Black neighborhood so he could target African Americans in a supermarket. He allegedly killed 10 people and injured three others.
"The individuals that carry out these types of acts, thankfully, are a small fraction of the populace that are operating on a far fringe," said Brown.
Brown though, encourages people to live with vigilance, not fear.
He says the fringe that often festers online is worth monitoring to ensure that people who need intervention can be identified and stopped before their online rhetoric turns to real-world action.
"There has to be a continuous work combating online hate, continuous work in legislation, [and] assisting social media providers and platforms with applying appropriate algorithms to detect escalating language," said Brown.
Congress may also soon vote on the proposed Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act.
"The objective of that legislation is to provide funding and more resources for law enforcement to have specialized units, all of them, focusing on domestic terrorism and violent extremism," said Brown.
Like many states, Arizona continues to see a surge of extremism and hate crimes. But Brown is confident the hate can be addressed with vigilance and strategies aimed at positive intervention.
"We predict hate crimes will continue increasing in 2022. There is lots of work left to do," said Brown. "But it is by no means hopeless. There are all sorts of strategies that can work once implemented."