A 35-year-old suspect has been arrested in Berkeley following an April 18 hate crime, according to authorities. At roughly 8 PM on April 18, Berkeley police responded to an ongoing confrontation between a woman and a delivery driver. The confrontation allegedly began when the woman saw the driver going through her neighborhood at a rate of speed she thought was unsafe.
The woman then followed the driver through the neighborhood, according to authorities. Reportedly, her boyfriend was the passenger in the vehicle as she tailed the delivery driver. A confrontation ensued when the driver next exited their vehicle, according to police, with the suspect forcefully preventing the driver from leaving.
Berkeley police have characterized the altercation as a hate crime, according to reports. The suspect allegedly used racial slurs while preventing the driver from leaving the area. She was arrested, police stated, on suspicion of battery, false imprisonment, willfully threatening a person based on their perceived characteristics, and using offensive words, police said.
“The Berkeley Police Department recognizes and places a high priority on the rights of all individuals guaranteed under state and federal law,” the Berkeley police department explained in a statement.
Reports indicate that hate crimes are on the rise in the United States. A hate crime is defined in law as a crime directed against someone based on their real or perceived protected social group. An FBI report released in 2020 showed that there were 51 hate crime murders in 2019, and over 7,300 hate crimes during that time span. The report also showed that this number was up from 2018 when the agency reported just over 7,100.
Some commentators have suggested that this is due to factors beyond just more crimes being committed, however. For instance, better reporting of hate crime statistics in some jurisdictions could lead to increased numbers, even if the number of crimes being committed has stayed relatively flat.
Critics argue that the lack of reporting on hate crimes could lead to a misrepresentation of reality. Advocacy groups have called on Congress to tighten regulations for police departments with regards to reporting hate crime statistics. By way of example, an AP report in 2016 showed that over 2,700 police precincts across the country didn’t submit a single hate crime for six consecutive years. The Associated Press contended that this didn’t indicate that no hate crimes occurred during that period, but that police precincts weren’t reporting them.