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Hate Crimes Are on the Rise in America's Biggest Cities, Study Finds

For the first time in more than a decade, the number of hate crimes in the US shot up two years in a row.

by Drew Schwartz
19 September 2017, 8:35am

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A comprehensive new study has found that the number of reported hate crimes in America's biggest cities shot up in 2016, with all but one of the country's five largest hubs netting double-digit percentage increases, Huffington Post reports.

Professor Brian Levin of California State University, San Bernardino's Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism authored the study and culled hate crime data from law enforcement agencies in 31 major cities and counties. Levin found that of the country's five largest metropolises—Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Houston—only Houston failed to see hate crime incidents increase by a double-digit percentage. That figure shot up by 20 percent in Chicago, 24 percent in New York City, 15 percent in Los Angeles, and 50 percent in Philadelphia from 2015 to 2016. In Washington, DC, the number of reported hate crimes spiked by 62 percent last year—the largest increase of any US city surveyed.

Levin coupled his data on the country's largest cities with a separate set of data from 13 states, and found the results were "nearly identical." In all, the study found that the nation saw a roughly five percent increase in reported hate crimes from 2015 to 2016—from 3,705 to 3,887. Because the number of reported US incidents rose seven percent from 2014 to 2015, last year marks the first time in more than a decade that the number of reported hate crimes increased two years in a row.

Levin told HuffPo that reported hate crimes tend to spike in election years, but that 2016 was different.

"What is so unusual about 2016—with the exception of the Midwest—and particularly among the largest jurisdictions with the best data, was a clear and dramatic spike for the election period that was unlike anything I can recall in my professional career," he told HuffPo.

The reported crimes in the study targeted folks based on their race, religion, sexuality, disability, and national origin. Levin didn't provide a breakdown of which specific instances supported his findings, but he told HuffPo that 2016 saw a "particularly sharp and widespread bigotry" against Muslim and transgender individuals, along with what he called the "emboldenment and mainstreaming of white nationalism."

While the study sheds light on many of the hate-fueled incidents that cropped up during 2016, it only looks at figures from a slice of the country and doesn't account for potential hate crimes that haven't been reported to police. But according to Huffington Post, Levin's data is a reliable predictor of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), which is released each year in November and offers the most official record of hate crimes in America. Levin anticipates the UCR registering 6,069 to 6,245 reported hate crimes for 2016—a prediction that, if correct, would mean the year saw the highest number of hate crimes since 2012.

Even that, however, is likely an underestimation. As HuffPo points out, the US Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that roughly 250,000 hate crimes go down in America each year—only a fraction of which get reported to the police.

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