Crimes motivated by sexual orientation, race, religion, or other prejudices, known as hate crimes, are becoming an increasingly prevalent issue in the United States as reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). According to CNN, 2016 marks the highest record of hate crimes since the FBI started collecting data in 1995. The number of reported hate crimes has increased for the second consecutive year.
An FBI statistical study showed that over 6,000 hate crime incidents were reported in 2016 up about 1,500 from 2015, a five percent increase over the course of one year. The statistics are based on reports given by about 16,000 U.S. law enforcement agencies.The FBI states that hate crimes can be anything from property vandalism to violence to murder (BBC).
Around six in ten victims of hate crimes were targeted based on ethnicity or race. Incidents of crimes motivated by hatred of religion has also increased, making up around 21% of U.S. hate crimes. Fifty-five percent of the incidents involving religion were spurred on by anti-Semitism and 25% motivated by anti-Muslim (Washington Post). Another 18% of the hate crimes were motivated by victim’s sexual orientation.
This spike in hate crimes is a frightening and awful issue for people across the nation. One active member of the Florida LGBT community was written hate mail by a neighbor he had known for years. A former U.S. marine was so angered by the Paris terror attack in 2015, that he fired dozens of shots at a mosque in Connecticut (BBC). Jewish schools are being hounded with threats, white-supremacist groups are adamant about holding rallies, and according to Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups has also increased.
While the FBI gives no reason for this influx in hate crimes, some report that Donald Trump’s election victory has contributed to the hate crime surge. Following his election, a U.S. civil rights group identified hundreds of cases of attacks against minorities. Gay rights activists believe Trump’s administration are perpetrating an “all out assault on LGBTQ people, women, and other minority communities” (BBC). Although, no link has been proven between the election results and the spike in hate crimes.
Regardless of the cause, the bigotry and hate based on identity must be stopped. Chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan A Greenblatt said in a statement, “Hate crimes demand priority attention 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 (Washington Post).”
Hate crimes should be unequivocally condemned by U.S. society and government alike. With the rate of hate crimes soaring higher than ever, it is imperative that people join together to fight hate and encourage acceptance and love.
Photo courtesy of The Economist