Hate crimes have increased for the third year in a row, up 17 percent in 2017 from 2016, according to a new Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) report made available via CBS News.
The federal law enforcement agency compiled reports of 7,175 incidents that have since been classified as “hate crimes,” up from 6,121 such crimes in 2016. 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.”
For the past three years, the agency has noted an increase in such crimes year-to-year; a five percent increase between 2015 and 2016, and a 17 percent increase between 2016 and 2017.
In 2017 alone, for example, the agency recorded 5,000 hate crimes that were directed against persons specifically – crimes such as assault or robbery, for example. Another couple thousand were targeted against property – businesses, places of worship, or homes, for example. The remainder were targeted at both.
The targets of the crimes range across all minorities and even majorities, whether racial, religious, ethnic, or otherwise. For example, when it comes to ethnicity, African-Americans were victims of 48.8 percent of the reported hate crimes in 2017, while whites were victims of 17.5 percent of such crimes, and Latinos were victims of 10.9 percent.
Today, the #FBI released the 2017 Hate Crime Statistics report, the latest annual compilation of bias-motivated incidents reported throughout the U.S. https://t.co/VCGh8TW8hW pic.twitter.com/SSqlaFb0Gx
— FBI (@FBI) November 13, 2018
But in what may be the most alarming development as far as the FBI is concerned, hate crimes against religious groups – and in particular, hate crimes motivated by anti-Semitism – have increased dramatically, to the point that acting FBI Director Michael Whitaker said he is “deeply troubled” by the increase. Specifically, 58.1 percent of religiously-motivated hate crimes in 2017 were directed at Jews (18.7 directed at Muslims), while in 2016 that number was 52.4 percent (24.8 percent Muslim). And just weeks ago, a gunman killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in an anti-Semitic hate crime.
Why The Increase In Hate Crimes?
The answer to that question will depend largely on whom you ask.
As far as the FBI is concerned, it comes down to more policing and better reporting. In 2017, for example, 1,000 more law enforcement agencies reported hate crimes compared to 2016.
However, according to a July 2018 Newsweek report, the increase in hate crimes has coincided with the political emergence of Donald Trump – and that’s not a coincidence, says Reverand Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP.
“This president has emboldened those who are perpetrators of hate with his rhetoric, his vulgarity and with his outright abusive language attacking people from Caribbean Islands and from Africa. It begins at the top.”
Similarly, Teresa Drenick, deputy district attorney for Alameda County, California, also believes that the rise in hate crimes can, at least in part, be pinned on Trump.
“I think people, particularly with bigots, they are now more emboldened.”
The FBI Response
Meanwhile, the federal law enforcement agency promises to be on top of things.
“The American people can be assured that this department has already taken significant and aggressive actions against these crimes and that we will vigorously and effectively defend their rights.”