By Miriam Raftery
November 14, 2018 (Washington D.C.) -- Hate crimes rose 17% nationwide last year over the year before, according to data released by the FBI under the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. This is third year in a row that hate crimes have risen in the U.S.
A total of 7,175 hate crimes were reported in 2017. Of those, more 58%--were motivated by bias based on race, ethnicity or ancestry. Another 22% were crimes motivated by religious bias and nearly 16% by sexual orientation.
Of cases motivated racial or ethnicity bias, nearly half (48.8%) targeted African Americans. Anti-white bias accounted for 17.5%, while nearly 11% targeted Hispanics and 5.8% involved bias against Native Americans. Other hate crimes against multi-racial, Asian, and Arab individuals measured in the low single digits.
Among hate crimes motivated by religion, over 58% were anti-Jewish and nearly 19% were anti-Islamic or Muslim. The number of anti-Semitic hate crimes targeting Jews rose 37% last year. Hate crimes targeting other religions were in low single digits.
"This report provides further evidence that more must be done to address the divisive climate of hate in America," ADL CEO and National Director Jonathan A. Greenblatt 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."
Over 60% of all hate crimes targeted people, including intimidation or assault. Other crimes targeted property, including robbery, burglary and arson. The most violent hate crimes included 15 murders and 23 rapes.
Acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker said the report is “a call to action” adding, “The Department of Justice’s top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes. They are also despicable violations of our core values as Americans.” Whitaker said he was “particularly troubled by the increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes,” already the most common type of religious hate crime in the U.S. the Washington post reports. His statement came shortly after a deadly synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh.
Some fault President Donald Trump for fanning the flames of hate with his divisive rhetoric, noting the rise in hate crimes corresponds to the President’s tenure in office.
The FBI data leaves out key incidents, so the total number of hate crimes may be far higher. For example, the FBI report left out the killing of Heather Heyer, a protester mowed down by a vehicle at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. It also omitted the fatal stabbing of two men who tried to confront a man shouting racial slurs at a woman wearing a hijab on a train in Portland, Oregon.
The Arab America Institute’s executive director, Maya Berry, concludes that the FBI data—and what’s missing from it—“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.”