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Exclusive: AG Grewal discusses startling new hate crime numbers with Kane In Your Corner

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Bias incidents are on the rise in New Jersey. New figures from the state show there were 569 incidents last year, the most in a decade. The state is forming a task force to deal with the rising tide of hate, but in an exclusive one-on-one interview with Kane In Your Corner, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal admits prosecuting bias crime can be challenging.

“The biggest challenge is how do you prove the intent the individual had?” Grewal says. “If you have emails, if you have telephone records or text messages, things of that nature, of if you have things that individual said about other protected groups in the past, that could develop that picture and prove that element of that crime, but it's difficult.”

The figures, just released by the attorney general, paint a sobering picture of hate in New Jersey. Since 2015, there’s been a 55% rise in bias incidents. Two New Jersey counties, Union and Passaic, saw bias incidents more than double last year.

In all, 52% of reported bias incidents were motivated by race, ethnicity or ancestry. Black people were the most common victim of racial incidents, Latinos were the most commonly targeted ethnic group. Another 38% of bias incidents were motivated by religion, with the Jewish community being the most likely target. And 10% of bias incidents were based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

LISTEN: Walt's exclusive interview in a companion podcast for the News 12 Talks New Jersey podcast:

And for the second year in a row, the single most likely place for a bias incident to occur in New Jersey was on a college campus. There were 32 bias incidents on the campus of Rutgers New Brunswick alone.

Grewal says that rise in intolerance among people is what motivated the new task force.

“If 25% of our incidents are happening on campuses, that's where we need to look,” he says.

Kane In Your Corner is also investigating the issue of hate in New Jersey as part of a networkwide investigation that will air on all News 12 stations.

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