By Christina A. Cassidy, Associated Press
BOGALUSA, La. (AP) — The knock on the door, strong and quick, jolted Barbara Hicks Collins awake. It was the middle of the night. Someone must be in trouble, she thought. She flung open her front door to the shocking sight of her car engulfed in flames.
Investigators later determined someone had deliberately set fire to her Mercedes and also tried to burn down the one-story brick house she shared with her mother in this eastern Louisiana town, once known as a hotbed of Ku Klux Klan activity. Hicks Collins, a black woman, had no doubt the fire — set on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2012 — was racially motivated. Her father had been a prominent civil rights leader who filed lawsuits that desegregated local schools and forced police to protect protesters, and her family remained active in the community.
Despite the circumstances, the case was never counted in the nation’s annual tally of hate crimes. In fact, neither the police department nor the local sheriff has filed a hate crime report with the FBI since at least 2009.
And that’s not unusual, an investigation by The Associated Press found. The AP identified more than 2,700 city police and county sheriff’s departments across the country that have not submitted a single hate crime report for the FBI’s annual crime tally during the past six years — about 17 percent of all city and county law enforcement agencies nationwide.
Advocates worry that the…