Hate crimes increase in 2016, illustrating enduring bigotry in the United States

November 14, 2017Noah Fitzgerel

On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released its annual report on hate crimes. The latest report, which summarized data collected by law-enforcement agencies across the nation, shed light on the number of hate crimes that occurred in 2016.

The report reflects several troubling trends. As the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) noted, the number of hate crimes increased from 5,850 in 2015 to 6,121 in 2016. Fifty-four percent of religious-based hate crimes targeted Jews. Moreover, the ADL points out that the number of religious-based hate crimes targeting Muslims increased by 19 percent between 2015 and 2016.

Another troubling trend in this year’s report is the increase in gender-based bias incidents. The number of anti-transgender incidents increased from 73 in 2015 to 105 in 2016, a 48-percent increase year over year. In 2016, there were 19 anti-gender non-conforming incidents, following 41 anti-gender non-conforming incidents reported in 2015.

These numbers are a troubling reminder of the importance of accurately tracking and reporting hate crimes. Hate crimes are underreported in cities and communities across the country. As the Reform Movement stated in a letter signed by over 80 other organizations in September, data collection for hate crimes requires a robust commitment from the Department of Justice to build trust among local communities across the nation—especially those marginalized communities often victimized by hate crimes—by addressing policies that disproportionately harm them. Increasing the accuracy of hate crimes numbers reported by law enforcement also requires a continued commitment to the proper training of law enforcement, and holding law enforcement agencies accountable.

This year’s report is a sobering reminder of the enduring hatred and bigotry in America. One of the most effective ways we can fight hate crimes is by ensuring that there are robust channels to report hate crimes, accurately account for them, and to ensure that they are properly prosecuted.

The Reform Movement is committed to fighting hate crimes. The RAC recently became a partner in a new initiative called Communities Against Hate, designed to document stories and respond to incidents of violence, threats and property damage motivated by hate. The website provides a safe place for survivors and witnesses to share stories of hate incidents through an online database and telephone hotline. There are also links to legal resources and social services.

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