Researchers at Cal State University found a significant spike in hate crimes in major U.S. cities in 2016, a year in which a racially tinged presidential campaign put immigration policy and a border wall at the forefront of U.S. politics.
Hates crimes increased by 23.3 percent on average in nine U.S. metropolitan areas last year, according to data collected by the Center for Study of Hate and Extremism, pointing to a nationwide increase in hate-related incidents.
“We’re getting enough data that appears to indicate a broad national increase,” said Brian Levin, the director of the center, although he said more data needs to be collected.
In these nine areas, there were 1,037 hate-related incidents, up from 841 in 2015.
The eight cities that saw increases, according to the data:
- New York City, a 24 percent increase
- Washington, D.C., a 62 percent increase
- Chicago, a 20 percent increase
- Philadelphia, a 50 percent increase
- Seattle, a 6 percent increase
- Montgomery County, Md., a 42 percent increase
- Columbus, a 9.8 percent increase
- Cincinnati, a 38.5 percent increase
Just one metropolitan area — Long Beach, Calif. — saw a decrease, dropping by 33 percent year over year. Around the election of President Donald Trump, some cities, but not all, saw significant spikes in hate-related incidents. Forty-three percent of 2016 hate crimes in Philadelphia, for example, happened in November and December.
“We definitely saw an election-time bump,” Levin said.
Levin also noted that anti-Semitic hate crimes are on the rise in 2017. There have been 55 hate crimes in New York City already in 2017, a 189 percent over the 19 hate-related incidents in all of 2016. New York City is home to U.S.’s largest population of Jewish residents, about 1.1 million people.
Hate crime data is notoriously difficult to track. Incidents often go unreported to police, and FBI statistics — which won’t be released until later this year — are based on a voluntary reporting system that some experts say police can refuse to support, meaning numbers are likely higher.
Late last month, President Trump finally addressed the growing wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers and anti-Semitic vandalism happening in the country. Jewish community centers across the U.S. have received more than 100 bomb threats since January.
The increases are “very significant,” so Levin doesn’t believe the spike can be solely attributed to an increase in reporting of hate crimes. The information “answers questions but creates more,” because it only accounts for nine metropolitan areas.
Official FBI data for nationwide hate crimes in 2016 will not be released until November of this year.