Hate crimes increased by 17% in 2017, FBI reports
Unsettling news from the FBI: the number of hate crime incidents reported to the FBI increased about 17% in 2017 in comparison with the previous year. Released at the start of Transgender Awareness Week, these statistics highlight the ongoing epidemic of anti-transgender violence, as well as hate violence against other marginalized communities.
The statistics, which were released in the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s annual “Hate Crime Statistics” report, include hate crime information for last year, broken down by location, offenders, bias types, and victims.
According to the report, the number of bias-motivated incidents submitted to the FBI increased from 6,121 in 2016 to 7,175 in 2017. Moreover, the number of law enforcement agencies reporting also increased by about 1,000 and stood at 16,149. However, the increased number of jurisdictions reporting hate crimes doesn’t reflect the whole picture as thousands of law enforcement agencies throughout the country did not submit any data.
About 5,000 of the hate crimes reported were categorized as crimes against persons, such as intimidation or assault. About 3,000 were considered crimes against property, such as vandalism, robbery, or burglary. (Some hate crime incidents are classified as both crimes against persons and crimes against property.) 69 multiple bias hate crime incidents were also reported.
Let’s dig into the details. Of the 7,106 single-bias hate crimes reported:
59.6% of victims were targeted because of the offenders’ race/ethnicity/ancestry bias;
20.6% were targeted because of sexual-orientation bias;
1.9% were targeted because of gender identity bias;
0.6% were targeted because of gender bias.
Hate crimes targeting black people represented 28% of all reported hate crimes in 2017, having increased from 1,739 incidents in 2016 to 2,013 incidents in 2017.
Every other racial and ethnic group also saw increases in the number of reported hate crimes in 2017.
Gender identity bias
Despite the 4% decrease in reported hate crimes motivated by gender identity bias, anti-transgender violence is still an epidemic. In 2017, advocates reported the tragic deaths of 29 transgender individuals across the U.S., the highest number ever recorded in a single year.
While it is unclear if all of these were hate crimes, they illustrate the fatal violence that affects transgender people, especially transgender women of color who live at the intersections of racism, sexism and transphobia.
The majority of religion motivated hate crimes were anti-Jewish (58.1%), which contributed into the total increase of 23% in that category. In comparison, of the 1,679 religious bias crimes reported in 2017, 18.6% were anti-Muslim.
Hate crimes motivated by bias against people with disabilities increased by a disturbing 66%.
In a statement released Tuesday, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said the report “is a call to action – and we will heed that call.”
“The Department of Justice’s top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes,” the statement read.
“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. 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,” the statement read.
The FBI is working with law enforcement partners across the country to encourage reporting of hate crime statistics. Next year, FBI personnel will provide training for law enforcement officers on how to identify bias-motivated incidents and report that data to the FBI’s UCR Program. Additionally, the Department of Justice launched a new hate crimes webpage, which has information for law enforcement on reporting incidents.
Reporting hate crime data to the UCR Program allows the public, researchers, community leaders, and local government to raise awareness of the issue and gain a more accurate picture of hate crimes. It also allows law enforcement agencies to develop data-focused strategies and preventative measures.
Hate crimes are the highest investigative priority in the FBI’s civil rights program.
The Anti-Defamation League has mapped the hate crime incidents that were reported in cities with populations of more than 100,000 and includes information on reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity biases. You can view this map here.