FBI Reports Biggest Increase in Hate Crimes in Past Decade
Hate crimes in the United States have increased by 17%, the highest jump in more than a decade, according to a new report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The annual Hate Crimes Statistics report said that 7,175 hate crimes were reported to authorities last year, compared to 6,121 in 2016. This is the largest rise in hate crimes since 9/11, Voice of America reports.
Out of the 7,106 single-bias hate crimes (as opposed to hate crimes caused by multiple biases) studied, 59.6% of people were targeted because of their race or ethnicity. Sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender bias were the other primary hate crime motives.
The FBI defines a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.” They are often violent acts of prejudice meant to incite fear among marginalized groups.
Anti-Jewish crimes rose from 684 to 938 this year. These alarming results come just a few weeks after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, one of the largest attacks on the Jewish community in US history. Eleven people were killed and seven were injured while attending awaiting the service. Because the attack happened in October, it was not included in the report. However, anti-Semitic hate crimes were still reported as on the rise.
"I am particularly troubled by the increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes, which were already the most common religious hate crimes in the United States, that is well documented in this report,” said Attorney General Matthew Whitaker in a statement. "The Department of Justice's top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes."
Most of the incidents were racially motivated, and crimes that targeted black people made up half of the attacks in this category.
“This is a historic increase,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. “We’re at a new plateau."
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Levin said that while it’s hard to attribute the rise to President Donald Trump’s inflammatory remarks on race and culture, he noted that the research suggests a correlation, with data showing a surge in hate crimes after Trump first proposed a Muslim ban. Levin also said there was another increase when Trump said he’d ban refugees.
Anti-Muslim attacks are also on the rise, with 2018 featuring the third-highest reported number of attacks on Muslims ever recorded, trailing a surge in 2016 and another in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks, according to BuzzFeed News. Anti-Islamic crimes have also remained high, and anti-Arab hate crimes doubled to 102 incidents, Voice of America reported.
“This report provides further evidence that more must be done to address the divisive climate of hate in America,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group, said in a statement. “That begins with leaders from all walks of life and from all sectors of society forcefully condemning anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hate whenever it occurs.”