Help The Star and ProPublica document hate crimes in Missouri and Kansas

The Kansas City Star has joined a collaborative reporting project with ProPublica and journalists from nearly 40 news organizations across the country to create a national database of hate crimes.

Since November’s election, the Southern Poverty Law Center and other civil rights organizations have reported an increase in bias incidents and hate crimes.

But how many of these crimes actually occur nationwide, and whether they are related to the recent election, is unclear.

That’s because national statistics on these crimes are lacking.

While federal law requires the FBI to ask state and local law enforcement agencies for statistics on hate crimes, thousands of agencies across the country simply don’t provide any data on alleged or even confirmed hate crimes in their jurisdictions. The FBI tracks between 5,000 and 10,000 hate crimes annually, but the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates there may be as many as a quarter of a million each year.

Documenting Hate will gather data from a variety of sources — law enforcement, nonprofit groups, news reports, social media and directly from victims and witnesses — and disseminate that data to local news partners across the country with the goal of creating the most authoritative national database of hate incidents.

The Star joins the project following the Feb. 22 shooting at Austin’s Bar & Grill in Olathe, which killed Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, an engineer at Garmin Ltd. His friend and fellow engineer, Alok Madasani, 32, was wounded. Both are natives of India. Ian Grillot, who tried to intervene in the attack, was also wounded.

The FBI is investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime because the gunman allegedly said “Get out of my country” before opening fire.

Documenting Hate also aims to gather information on incidents that may not rise to the level of a criminal offense. These episodes are currently not documented and analyzed by any government agency.

If you have experienced, witnessed or read about a recent hate crime, we hope that you will use this tool to help us track the prevalence of these events nationwide.

The form is not a report to law enforcement or any government agency.

Please include your contact information in the form so reporters can contact you to follow up with you about the incident.

If the embedded form is not dispaying properly, click here to submit your information in a new window.

Kelsey Ryan: 816-234-4852, @kelsey_ryan