Big increase for third straight year
by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
The number of hate crimes in the US reported to the FBI jumped by 17% last year, according to a new report released by the bureau.
It was the largest increase since 2001, when a surge in attacks on Americans of Muslim and Arab ancestry followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
US law enforcement agencies reported a total of 7,175 hate crimes in 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016 and the third consecutive annual increase, the FBI said in its annual hate crime report released on November 13. More than 60% of the incidents were designated as crimes against persons, such as assault and intimidation.
The FBI report is based on data provided voluntarily by law enforcement agencies, leaving it susceptible to gaps in reporting. Last year, more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies took part in the data collection, yet only 2,000 agencies actually reported hate crimes.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, noted that at least 92 cities with populations of over 100,000 people 'affirmatively reported zero hate crimes.' In other words, the number of hate crimes is likely to be even larger than what is captured in the FBI report.
'This report provides further evidence that more must be done to address the divisive climate of hate in America,' Greenblatt said. '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.'
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.'
Of 34 bias motivation categories tracked by the FBI, all but five reported an increase. The victims represented a cross-section of society, with African-Americans and Jews the most frequently targeted victims.
Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, said the increase in anti-Semitic attacks was 'mirrored by increases not only in some large jurisdictions but also a big spike in anti-Semitic rhetoric on the web.'
Levin added that preliminary police data collected by his center show that hate crimes are up in many cities such as New York and Los Angeles this year after a precipitous decline during the first quarter of 2018.
There were 4,832 incidents motivated by race, ethnicity, or ancestry, an increase of 18% from 2016 and accounting for 58% of all hate crimes last year. Nearly half of all racially motivated incidents involved African-Americans. Anti-Hispanic bias accounted for nearly 11% of the incidents. Anti-Arab hate crimes, though representative of a small fraction of the overall number, increased by 100%.
Religion-based hate crimes jumped 23%, to 1,564 incidents, the second-highest number on record. There were more than 900 attacks on Jews, accounting for nearly 60% of all religion-based hate incidents. Anti-Muslim hate crimes fell by 13%, to 273 but still accounted for almost 20% of the religion-based incidents and remained well above historic averages. Anti-Sikh hate crimes more than tripled, to 20 incidents.
The Arab American Institute (AAI) said its analysis of the data showed discrepancies with state data. For example, the Kentucky State Police reported 41 gender-motivated hate crimes in their state alone, while the FBI report showed 46 such incidents in the whole country, the institute said.
'The FBI data, in what is missing from it, also demonstrates the hate crime reporting system we have in place is failing to respond adequately to hate crime, and thus inform fully the policy remedies we must make to improve our response to hate,' Maya Berry, AAI's executive director, said.
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