FBI Jacksonville
Amanda Warford Videll
December 21, 2023

FBI Jacksonville Special Agent in Charge: Hate Crimes Will not be Tolerated

Throughout my law enforcement career, I have remained vocal that no one should be afraid to walk down the street in fear of being targeted in an act of violence based on any part of their identity. And yet, as far as we've come in society, hate crime incidents are still on the rise across the country.  

Based on statistics provided by law enforcement agencies nationwide, in 2022, 11,634 hate crime incidents were reported, up from 9,065 in 2021. The number of reported hate crimes has been on the rise for more than five years, and even more disturbing is that the actual number of hate crimes that occur is likely higher because many go unreported for a variety of reasons, including fear, embarrassment, or distrust of government agencies. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray recently confirmed that the FBI is aggressively countering violence from extremists who are citing the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas as their inspiration for attacks against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities in the U.S. In North Florida, the FBI, through our Joint Terrorism Task Force and civil rights investigators, along with our partners, are bringing the full extent of our investigative resources together to aggressively pursue hate crimes. The work of these teams is not easy. Unlike traditional investigations, where we gather evidence to prove whether someone committed a crime, in hate crime investigations, we must also prove why the offender committed the crime. In its simplest form - we must prove what someone was thinking. Nonetheless, we do hard work in law enforcement, and getting answers to these matters is extremely important to the health and safety of a community. We have seen how hate crimes strike a nerve that runs deep through an entire community, and we will not allow fear to thrive here.

If you fall victim to a hate crime, know that you have a voice. It is critical for your safety and your community's safety that you report it to law enforcement. The FBI recently launched a public awareness campaign to help victims know where to seek help, and published a Hate Crimes Threat Guide, a step-by-step guide in reacting to threats and what critical information to report to law enforcement. The guide is free and available to download.  

As I have committed many times before, the FBI stands ready to use all the tools at our disposal to protect the rights of every American, and we will continue to work closely with our law enforcement and community partners. Everyone deserves to feel safe, everyone deserves a voice, and the FBI's team of investigators is listening. 
Sherri E. Onks  
Special Agent in Charge  
FBI Jacksonville  

Download Hate-Crime-Threat-Response-Guide-Updated-11-8-2023.pdf — 904 KB