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Hate crimes surge to highest levels in over a decade, FBI report finds

The FBI reported a record high number of hate-motivated murders last year.

End Hate sign New York Times

Hate crimes in the United States have increased to their highest levels in over a decade, an FBI report revealed on Monday (Nov. 16). According to the report, last year alone held the highest number of hate-motivated killings since the agency first began collecting hate crime data in the early ‘90s.

Besides a spike in 2019, the report shows that hate crimes have been on a steady increase since 2016 — when Donald Trump took office. In total, hate crimes increased nearly 20 percent within the last four years, with a majority — 57.6 percent — of crimes motivated by race. Over 20 percent of hate crimes were motivated by religion; 16.7 percent by sexual orientation; 2.7 percent by gender identity; 2 percent by disability and almost 1 percent were motivated by gender.

There were 51 hate crime murders in 2019, including the 22 victims of the El Paso, Texas shooting. Two dozen others were injured in the mass shooting, which both state and federal authorities said was an attack on Mexican-Americans.

According to the report, hate crimes against Hispanic individuals, Jewish people and institutions and gay men increased. African Africans remain the largest group targeted by hate crimes, with 7,314 incidents reported last year. Newsweek also writes that 39 of the 51 hate crime murders were committed by white supremacists. The outlet notes that murders by white supremacists have gradually increased since 2016.

Although more police departments have been reporting their hate crime data in recent years — one possible explanation for the spike — the reported number of crimes is expected to be much lower than the actual amount of hate crimes committed. This is because, advocacy groups say, a majority of police departments do not report their hate crime data to the FBI.

“The total severity of the impact and damage caused by hate crimes cannot be fully measured without complete participation in the FBI’s data collection process,” Anti-Defamation League President Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

Additionally, many victims of hate crimes do not go to the police, for fear of further discrimination.

“[America] must remove the barriers that too often prevent people in marginalized communities — the individuals most likely to suffer hate crimes — from reporting hate-based incidents,” Greenblatt added.

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