What To Know Today

2019 was the deadliest year for hate crimes since the FBI began tracking them. Fifty-one people were killed in bias-motivated attacks last year, according to the bureau’s annual hate crime statistics, more than double the previous high in 2018. Twenty-two of the fatalities came in the August 2019 mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, where the perpetrator targeted people of Mexican descent. Overall, there were 7,314 reported hate crimes last year, the highest annual total in more than a decade. Caveats: The data — which the FBI has kept since the early 1990s — relies on voluntary reporting by police agencies across the country, and this year the number of departments submitting hate crime data decreased slightly — to about 2,220 agencies out of nearly 15,000. The voluntary reporting system has drawn repeated criticism from crime analysts and civil rights groups. “The total severity of the impact and damage caused by hate crimes cannot be fully measured without complete participation in the FBI’s data collection process,” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

Remote learning hasn’t ended active shooter drills. At least 40 states are requiring schools to hold them — even if they’ve moved classes online, The Verge reports. Why? Experts cited legal liability for not continuing training as well as a profit motive for a school security industry worth nearly $3 billion. Students have described the virtual drills in the age of COVID-19 in a number of ways: “Boring,” “awkward,” “nerve-wracking,” and “melancholic.” In August, the American Academy of Pediatrics released guidance saying schools should stop holding realistic active shooter drills that can unnecessarily traumatize children. “Even when people are no longer in schools, we’re still training them to expect school shootings,” said one gun violence researcher.

Facebook didn’t enforce its own call-to-arms policies ahead of the Kenosha shootings: report. Before a 17-year-old shot and killed two protesters in the Wisconsin city in August, a Facebook militia event group called on people to bring weapons to the city. The social media giant later admitted the group was in violation of a policy meant to curb far-right event organizing. But BuzzFeed News reports that Facebook also failed to alert content moderators about another internal policy that barred event pages from encouraging people to bring weapons for the purposes of intimidation or harassment.

Third juror in the Breonna Taylor case speaks out. “I felt like there should’ve been more charges,” she told the Associated Press in her first public interview after two other jurors came forward to dispute the handling of the investigation by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. In September, a grand jury announced that none of the three responding officers would be indicted for Taylor’s killing during a March raid. (A former officer was charged with first-degree wanton endangerment — for recklessly shooting into neighboring apartments.) The jurors have said prosecutors told them not to consider additional charges in the case because Taylor’s killing was justified as self defense.

A notorious shooting in Vallejo, California, over the summer is part of a long history of police killings in the city. Officers fatally shot Sean Monterrosa, 22, in June after reports that he looted a store and shot at the police. It turned out he was only holding a hammer. A deep-dive in The New Yorker explores the ins and outs of policing in the city of 122,000 where officers have killed 19 people since 2010, a higher rate than any of the country’s largest police agencies outside of St. Louis. It’s part of a trend of a rise in killings by the police in smaller cities across the country, which reporter Shane Bauer attributes in part to the power of local police unions.

Data Point

25 percent — how much the state of Illinois could reduce its prison population over the next five years without seeing an attendant rise in crime, according to a new report estimating long-term crime trends alongside criminal justice reforms. [Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation]