Hate Crimes Increased Again in 2016, FBI Says

WASHINGTON (CN) — Nearly 60 percent of U.S. hate crimes committed in 2016 targeted the victim’s race, ethnicity or ancestry, the FBI said Monday in its annual report, which found more than twice as many reports of anti-Semitic hate crimes than anti-Muslim ones.

The yearly report, which comes from voluntarily reported data from law enforcement agencies across the country, found 6,121 hate crimes reported in 2016. That is a 4.6 increase from the year before, though 257 more law enforcement agencies contributed to the report in 2016 than in 2015.

It was the second year in a row the number of reported hate crimes has increased, after a slight decrease from 2013 to 2014.

The new report showed a slight uptick in anti-Islamic and anti-Jewish hate crimes, which together made up 79 percent of reported hate crimes in which religion was the primary factor.

Anti-Jewish hate crimes alone made up 54.2 percent of religious hate crimes, compared to 51.3 percent in 2015. Anti-Islamic hate crimes made up 24.8 percent of those crimes in 2016, up from 22.2 percent the year before. No other religious group made up more than 4.1 percent of reported hate crimes motivated by religion.

Crimes based on race, ethnicity or ancestry made up 57.5 percent of the incidents in the report. The next closest category was crimes based on religion, with 21 percent, followed by sexual orientation at 17.5 percent.

That distribution tracks closely with the data from 2015, which found 59.2 percent of hate crimes reported that year were based on the victim’s race, ethnicity or ancestry.

More than half of the crimes committed based on race, ethnicity or ancestry bias were motivated by anti-black sentiments, according to the report. Anti-white bias was the next largest category, making up 20.7 percent.

More than 46 percent of suspects law enforcement was able to identify were white, according to the FBI report.

Many civil rights groups reported a spike in hate crimes immediately after President Donald Trump’s election in 2016 and the increase in the FBI’s official numbers is similar to some of those estimates but lower than the most extreme claims.

The increase reported by the FBI led some civil rights groups to call for more involvement from the federal government and state and local leaders in going after people who commit hate crimes.

“It’s deeply disturbing to see hate crimes increase for the second year in a row,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “Hate crimes demand priority because of their special impact. They not only hurt one victim, but they also intimidate and isolate a victim’s whole community and weaken the bonds of our society.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who drew questions during his confirmation hearings about his opposition to a 2009 federal hate crimes law as a senator from Alabama, said Monday that the government should continue to “aggressively prosecute” anyone who violates a person’s civil rights.

“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that individuals can live without fear of being a victim of violent crime based on who they are, what they believe or how they worship,” Sessions said in a statement.

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