Hate crimes rose by nearly 5 percent in 2016: FBI

Hate crime incidents go up to 6,121 during 2016 compared to 5,850 incidents reported the previous year, FBI says.

hate crimes
A resident of Roseville, California, paints over a racist graffiti painted on the side of a mosque in what officials said was an apparent hate crime [File: AP]

Incidents of hate crimes in the US went up to 6,121 during 2016, seeing an increase of 4.6 percent compared to the previous year, according to data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Monday.

The crimes committed, particularly against African-Americans, Jews and Muslims, rose for the second consecutive year, with a spike of 10 percent from 2014 to 2015.

A hate crime is defined by the FBI as a “criminal offence against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity”.

The numbers are up across the board. I think it requires an across the board response. All Americans need to hold politicians accountable

by Corey Saylor, Council on American-Islamic Relations

Corey Saylor, a spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations who focuses on Islamophobia, said the results “confirms everything we’ve already known … Hate crimes went up.”

The report says that about 58 percent of 2016 incidents were racially motivated, with over half of those being directed at the African-American community.

Roughly 21 percent of the incidents were religiously motivated, with 54 percent targeting the Jewish community and about 25 percent targeting Muslims. Roughly 18 percent of the hate crimes were based on biases towards sexual orientation.

Saylor, who tracks anti-Islamic incidents throughout the US, said he would “argue that it has a lot to do with the irresponsible rhetoric used by some politicians on the campaign trail”.

The results are the most comprehensive for 2016, a year which saw the Trump campaign – which ran on a nativist, anti-immigration platform – triumph over Hillary Clinton in what many called the biggest political upset in modern US history.

Rise of white supremacist groups

The months leading up to the 2016 election saw an increase in white nationalist activity, with fringe white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan seeing an increase in membership.

The increase was predicted in data collected by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. Their study (PDF) showed a 4.9 percent increase in hate crime incidents.

According to the research, Tennessee and Rhode Island saw the largest decreases in hate crime incidents, with 30 and 18 percent reductions since 2015, respectively.

Indiana and Minnesota saw the greatest increases, with 123 and 27 percent surges.

Figures from 2015 show that 51 percent of religiously motivated incidents were anti-Jewish and 22 percent were anti-Islamic.

“I think it’s important to not focus solely on the number of [anti-Islam] attacks,” Saylor continued. “The numbers are up across the board. I think it requires an across the board response. All Americans need to hold politicians accountable.”

The FBI did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment. As of Monday morning, US President Donald Trump has not addressed the figures.

Source: Al Jazeera