Reported Hate Crimes up in Spokane and nationwide

Reported Hate Crimes up in Spokane and nationwide
As hate crimes rise, a bill to combat the problem languishes in Congress
The “NO HATE Act” aims to increase reporting and transparency around hate crime acts, like those committed by white supremacist neo-Confederates. CREDIT: WIN MCNAMEE / GETTY New statistics released this week by the FBI show a 17 percent increase in documented hate crimes in 2017, the third consecutive year in which hate crimes have risen across the United States.

Not only did hate crimes altogether rise last year, but the FBI pointed to notable increases in anti-Hispanic and anti-Semitic crimes. Anti-black crimes also substantially outpaced all other race-based hate crimes.

In 2016, Trump was criticized for defending white nationalist, anti-Semitic protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia who rallied around the cry “Jews will not replace us!” After one person was killed, Trump held a press conference in which he blamed the ralliers and counterprotesters for the violence, despite the killer being a self-described neo-Nazi, according to The Washington Post. “You also had some very fine people on both sides,” said Trump.

One bill, though, attempts to not only stem the rising tide of hate crimes across the U.S., but to also help Americans get a better handle on where and how these hate crimes take place, and who exactly is targeted.

The new data support findings from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that found a 57% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017. The ADL said a significant portion of the increase was due to “incidents in schools and on college campuses, which nearly doubled for the second year in a row.” The ADL has consistently recorded higher levels of anti-Semitic incidents than the FBI, but both showed a historically significant increase in 2017.

Anti-Jewish hate crimes increased by 37% in 2017, according to a new FBI report

Numerous anti-Semitic incidents reported across the country since Pittsburgh shooting The Anti-Defamation League reports a 60 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents.

The “National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality Act,” dubbed the “NO HATE Act,” was introduced early last year by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). However, it has languished in Congress over the past 18 months — perhaps due to the fact that the measure has zero Republican co-sponsors. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced a similar bill in the Senate in 2017.

Following the release of the new FBI statistics, Beyer issued a call to revisit the bill, and to improve how the U.S. gathers information about hate crimes across the country.

Obviously of concern to the FBI, its a top priority for us especially in the wake of the tragic events in Pittsburgh, said Michael F. Paul, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Seattle FBI. We want Washingtonians to know their safety and civil rights are a top priority for us here.

“For the third year in a row, hate crimes across the country have risen, this year by 17 percent… [It] is time for Congress to take action,” Beyer said Wednesday in a statement. “With each passing year, the problem of hate in the United States grows, and it requires Congress to take up and pass the NO HATE Act.”

In the last two years theres been a significant increase in not only anti-Semitic hate crimes and events but hate crimes across the board against vulnerable minorities, Weiner told KOMO Wednesday. It is mind-blowing that theres been such a precipitous rise in these hate crimes.

As Beyer’s office pointed out, a substantial number of law enforcement agencies have failed to file any hate crimes reports over the past decade. Some states even had a majority of their agencies fail to file a single report. While there has been an increase in agencies reporting over the past year — the FBI said an additional 1,000 agencies contributed information this year — the “NO HATE Act” would streamline reporting.

One sub-section of the bill outlines how it would improve reporting, expanding and standardizing the types of information law enforcement agencies should gather relating to potential hate crimes, and help police identify hate crimes when they actually take place.

At Temple De Hirsch Sinai, in Seattles First Hill neighborhood, Rabbi Daniel Weiner said the FBI statistics arent a surprise. He said the Anti-Defamation League has reported seeing an increase of hate crimes across the U.S.

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Another sub-section is devoted to increasing the use of hate crime hotlines, providing a grant for states to manage their own related hotlines. One similar hotline launched in Maryland in 2016, but the “NO HATE Act” would push for financing to start similar hotlines in all 50 states.

Then, In 2009, Congress passed, and President Obama signed, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, expanding the federal definition of hate crimes, enhancing the legal toolkit available to prosecutors, and increasing the ability of federal law enforcement to support our state and local partners, A U.S. Department of Justice statement on hate crimes says.

And as a final thrust to protect victims of hate crimes, the bill would “establish a federal private right of action” for hate crimes, effectively allowing victims to sue perpetrators in civil court.

Ive heard people talk about the worst thing theyve ever experienced and Ft. Hood was that for me, Truehitt said and his voice shook as he said, I just remember being up all night and just as the sun was coming up, in the pink light I could see one young soldier, maybe 20 or 21, standing guard over, protecting the crime scene, securing it for us.

The bill has already garnered notable support, including from the NAACP. “For many police departments, the transition to [the standardized hate crime reporting mechanisms] will require additional funding and training. Congress can provide this assistance through legislation, like the NO HATE Act, that incentivizes hate crime reporting,” wrote Maya Berry, the executive director of the Arab American Institute.

On Oct. 31, a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania charged Robert Bowers, 46, of Baldwin, Pa., in a 44-count indictment with federal hate crimes, including the murder of 11 people, for his actions during the Oct. 27, 2018 shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburghs Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

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With nearly 100 co-sponsors in both the House and the Senate, the momentum for improving hate crime reporting and transparency may finally be building, alongside the ever-increasing need for more information about the state of hate crimes in America.

The murders were not charged as hate crimes, rather were charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the sentencing authority was a court martial, where the rules are somewhat different, but he is serving his sentence on death row at the Armys U.S. Bureau of Prisons – Leavenworth Military Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.

And while the bill doesn’t mention Trump explicitly, it comes on the heels of the president’s increasingly toxic rhetoric and the increasing number of far-right extremists who support him, and who then proceed to murder or plot domestic bombings. Just weeks after a spate of hate crimes ranging from a grocery store shooting to a massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue, there’s little sign the trend will end anytime soon.

The FBI this week reported a 17 percent year-over-year increase in federal hate crimes across the U.S., the third consecutive yearly rise and the largest jump in federally reported hate crimes since the September 11 attacks. The annual report showed there were 7,175 bias crimes in 2017 involving 8,828 victims. Victims targeted due to their sexual orientation or gender identity comprised 1,470 — or nearly 17 percent — of all victims.

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The 1,470 victims were involved in 1,249 separate bias incidents. Nearly 60 percent of these incidents targeted gay men, 25 percent targeted a mix of LGBTQ people, 12 percent targeted lesbians, 3 percent targeted heterosexuals, 2 percent targeted bisexuals and 1 percent targeted transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

The report found that 7,175 hate crimes were reported by law enforcement agencies in 2017, up from 6,121 reported incidents in 2016. While the number has increased, the number of agencies reporting also increased by about 1,000.

The number of hate crimes motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias has remained relatively steady, from a high of 1,256 in 2010 to a low of 1,097 in 2014. Since 2014, the total number has increased every year. But what has also remained constant is the portion of overall hate crimes that are motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias: between 17 and 21 percent. (Note: data on trans and gender nonconforming-related bias incidents starts in 2013.)

The statistics, which were released in the bureaus annual “Hate Crime Statistics” report, are a compilation of bias-motivated incidents submitted to the FBI by 16,149 law enforcement agencies.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is estimated by Gallup to comprise 4.5 percent of the U.S. population, yet according to the FBIs newly released report, they make up more than 16 percent of federally reported hate crime victims (subtracting those targeted due to their heterosexuality from the 17 percent figure above). The Jewish and black communities also shoulder a disproportionate percentage of federally reported hate crimes: Jewish people comprise an estimated 2 percent of the U.S. population but make up 11.5 percent of hate crime victims, and the black community is an estimated 13.4 percent of the U.S. population but makes up 28 percent of hate crime victims.

Frank Pezzella, a criminology professor at New Yorks John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the increase in this years number of federally reported hate crimes is alarming — but still likely a gross undercount of the total number of bias incidents, because many — perhaps most — hate crimes go unreported.

Meantime, what happened at the mosque will be counted in the FBIs 2018 report. The imam is surprised that Austin ranked so high in 2017. “I grew up here in Austin and Austin prides itself on being an open city and being a progressive city,” Imam Mossaad said. The mosque has added overnight security guards since the attacks. They continue to worship, unfazed, but say hate crime is a sign of the times.

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There is a huge difference between the annual [FBI] hate crime report and the 252,000 hate crime victimizations that are reported each year, Pezzella explained, referring to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).

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The annual FBI hate crimes report is based on Uniform Crime Reports, which are statistics reported to the FBI by state and local law enforcement agencies. However, Pezzella said only 75 percent of the approximately 18,5000 police agencies participate in hate crime reporting, and of those who do participate, nearly 90 percent report zero hate crimes every year.

For a better overview of the scale of bias crimes, Pezzella pointed the NCVS, which is administered by the U.S. Census Bureau and asks victims directly about their exposure to crime. Pezzella said the NCVS is a better gauge of bias victimization, in part, because it allows victims who are part of marginalized groups — like undocumented hispanics, blacks and LGBTQ people — to bypass law enforcement.

Acts of hate rise among American teens, Anti-Defamation League report and FBI hate crimes statistics suggest

The LGBT community, Pezella explained, do not report hate crimes, and we argue because of the strained relationship with the police, he said. He also added that the most common answers to the NCVS question about why respondents dont report crime are police apathetic, police bias and police ineffective.

Despite what Pezzella perceives as flaws in the FBIs hate crimes data, which has been published in some form since 1990, he said it still provides useful information.

There are obvious holes in the data, he lamented. However, he added, it does provide us 30 years of baseline figures.

His office is also working with law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to improve the investigation of hate crimes. The reports can be difficult to investigate and prosecute because many investigators don’t know what evidence to collect or how to work with victims of hate crimes, many of whom are from marginalized and vulnerable groups.

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