FBI Houston
Public Affairs Specialist Christina Garza
(713) 936-7642
October 7, 2021

FBI Houston Launches Hate Crimes Reporting Campaign

HOUSTON, TX—At a news conference held at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Houston Field Office, community partner, ADL Southwest Regional Director Mark B. Toubin stood with FBI Houston Acting Special Agent in Charge (A/SAC) Mark N. Webster, Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Nitiana Mann, and Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) Heather Armstrong to announce an FBI initiative that encourages the public to report allegations of hate crime. As part of a nationwide effort, the FBI is asking victims and witnesses to submit tips to tips.fbi.gov or by calling the FBI toll-free at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Today is the 12th anniversary of the date that Congress finalized the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, 2009. President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, on Oct. 22, 2009, increasing the FBI’s jurisdiction to investigate bias-motivated crimes. In the late 90s, the Houston Field Office of the FBI conducted the investigation of the murder of James Byrd, Jr., one of the most brutal hate crimes in Texas history.

The FBI is the lead investigative agency for criminal violations of federal civil rights statutes. The Bureau works closely with its local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners in many of these cases, even when federal charges are not pursued. The FBI also works to detect and prevent incidents through law enforcement training, public outreach, and partnerships with community groups.

A/SAC Webster stated, “The FBI’s mission is to protect everyone in our community regardless of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. As defenders of the United States Constitution, in one of the most diverse cities in this nation, FBI Houston is creating awareness about the strength that comes from our differences while ensuring that those who violate federal hate crime laws face federal charges.”

“We promise if you pick up the phone and dial, we will answer the call and that victims will be treated with compassion, dignity, and respect,” said ASAC Mann. “The FBI needs witnesses and victims, regardless of immigration status, to take action and contact law enforcement because their reports are a critical piece of the puzzle required to accurately identify and investigate hate crimes.” Reports may be submitted anonymously.

When a federal hate crime has occurred, FBI victim specialists work with FBI special agents to inform victims of their legal rights and connect them to crucial resources to help them cope. SSA Heather Armstrong stated, “Hate crimes strike at the heart of one’s identity—they strike at a victim’s sense of self and belonging. FBI Victim Specialists stand ready to provide assistance to identified federal crime victims.” Treating victims with respect, compassion, and dignity is a priority to FBI victim specialists. Providing personalized assistance to victims helps the FBI build stronger cases.

There is wide speculation that many hate crimes go unreported to law enforcement and from the FBI’s perspective, even one hate crime is one too many. In August, the FBI released Hate Crime Statistics, 2020, the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s latest compilation about bias-motivated incidents throughout the nation. Over 15,000 law enforcement agencies submitted incident reports last year and there were 7,759 bias-motivated incidents reported nationwide. In Texas, the 2020 FBI hate crime statistics were based on data received from 1,073 of 1,158 law enforcement agencies in the state that year and there were 406 reported hate crimes.

ADL Southwest Regional Director Mark B. Toubin commented, “Even though hate crimes are underreported, tracking them helps us understand how they may be trending and affirms the need for strong hate crime laws. ADL does professional development classes for law enforcement to help them understand how to recognize and report hate crimes, and for the community to help people recognize them and respond. We join the FBI in encouraging individuals and law enforcement agencies to report hate crimes.”

As part of the new campaign, members of the public may spot FBI ads in social media feeds, monthly news publications, local newspapers, at the Greyhound bus terminal, and at the William P. Hobby airport. The national campaign also includes paid advertising with:

  • Digital and static billboards (by Lamar and Pacific Outdoor) running throughout Texas
  • Over 100 gas stations in Texas
  • Radio ads on iHeartRadio, Audacy, and Pandora/SiriusXM
  • TV ads (Univision/KUNP)
  • Web ads
  • Social media ads (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter)

More information on how the FBI is fighting hate crimes can be found at: fbi.gov/investigate/civil-rights/hate-crimes

The latest Hate Crime Statistics reports are available through the Uniform Crime Reporting Program at: fbi.gov/services/cjis/ucr