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Hate Crimes Hit 5-Year High

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on November 21, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

According to data released by the FBI last week, law enforcement agencies reported 6,121 hate crimes nationwide in 2016. That's a five percent increase in hate crimes over 2015, and a five-year high.

However, the FBI admits its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program doesn't count jurisdictions of agencies that do not submit reports, and some estimates put the number of hate crimes north of 200,000 per year.

Who, What, Where

The FBI's data showed that 59 percent of reported hate crimes targeted someone based on their ethnicity, race, or ancestry; 21 percent were based on religious affiliation; and 17 percent of victims were attacked because of their sexual-orientation. Specifically, anti-Muslim crimes jumped more than 20 percent from 2015, and anti-Jewish offenses were up 16 percent from the previous year.

Almost half of all offenders were white, while around a quarter were black. Nearly all, over 80 percent, were committed by adults over the age of 18. Most hate crime incidents (27 percent) occurred in or near someone one's residence, around 10 percent occurred at schools or colleges, and 4 percent took place in churches, synagogues, temples, or mosques.

When, and Why

Not only did 2016 see an increase in the number of hate crimes, reports of hate crimes also increased as the year went on, a data point that the Southern Poverty Law Center ties to Donald Trump's campaign for president and election:

The increase further confirms the explosion of bias incidents the Southern Poverty Law Center and other civil rights organizations and journalists reported in the wake of the election. Also of note was the steady increase in hate crimes over the year that were also likely related to the campaign. Trump campaign rallies were regularly marked by violence and reports of an increase in bias incidents at K-12 schools started during the primaries.

As noted above, however, even the reported hate crimes may not tell the full story. Last year, the AP reported that about 17 percent of local law enforcement agencies submitted no reports to the FBI over the previous six years, and more than 2,700 city police and county sheriff's departments across the country that had not submitted a single hate crime report for the FBI's annual crime tally. The lack of data from so many agencies makes it far more difficult to report and respond to hate crimes nationwide.

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