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.
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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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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 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.
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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.
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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.