POLITICS
11/13/2018 10:01 am ET Updated Nov 14, 2018

Reported U.S. Hate Crimes Up 17 Percent In 2017: FBI Report

Two-thirds of the year’s victims were targeted for their race, ethnicity or ancestry, the report shows.

The number of hate crimes reported to the FBI increased 17 percent in 2017 from the previous year, according to an annual report by the agency.

Authorities reported 7,175 hate crimes to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program in 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016, according to the report, released on Tuesday. Two-thirds of the year’s victims were targeted for their race, ethnicity or ancestry, the report shows. Half of those crimes were borne of what the report calls “anti-black bias.”

Sexual orientation and religion also were factors, and attacks on Jews accounted for nearly two-thirds of religion-based hate crimes.

The numbers show that the number of law enforcement agencies reporting hate crimes also rose in 2017. About 1,000 additional agencies contributed information for the report, compared with the previous year. Still, the sheer number of reported hate crimes is appalling no matter how you slice the data.

The release of the annual report follows a big month for hate in America. A far-right street gang attacked people on both coasts, a supporter of President Donald Trump sent pipe bombs to numerous critics of the president, an avowed anti-Semite killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue, and a man with a history racist and misogynistic comments killed two women at a Florida yoga studio.

“Two weeks ago, we witnessed the most deadly anti-Semitic hate crime in American history. Today, we have another FBI study showing a big jump in hate crimes against Americans because of their race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.

Greenblatt added that the FBI report shows huge gaps in reporting. At least 92 cities with large populations either didn’t report any data or claimed zero hate crimes, he noted in a statement.

“You can’t move what you can’t measure,” Greenblatt said. “Without accurate reporting we don’t have a real sense of how widespread hate crimes are and what needs to be done to address bias in society.”

The Arab American Institute said the report missed “three of the most horrific acts of bias-motivated violence” in 2017, including the Aug. 12 killing of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia;  the May 26 fatal stabbing of Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrrdin Namkai-Meche on an Oregon train; and the Feb. 22 shooting death of Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Kansas.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said the FBI report is a “call to action.”

“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,” Whitaker said in a statement. “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.”

Meanwhile, the federal government is grappling with the country’s white supremacy problem. The New York Times reported recently that federal authorities failed to see the scope of rising white nationalism, and now have no idea how to stop it.

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