Reports of hate crimes jumped by nearly 17 percent during President Trump’s first year in office, the FBI revealed Tuesday.
The new data, gleaned from local police reports submitted to the Uniform Crime Reporting federal database, showed that 7,175 hate crimes were reported to the federal agency in 2017 and 6,121 such crimes reported in 2016.
The majority of reported hate crimes in 2017 included bias against someone’s race, ethnicity or ancestry, according to the FBI data, which also counts acts of discrimination based on protected statuses like gender, disability, sexual orientation and religion. Victims were most often black or Jewish, and anti-Semitic crimes rose 37 percent in 2017, data shows. The FBI did not immediately return a VICE News request for comment as to why such crimes have risen.
The reported hate crimes included offenses classified as intimidation threats — the most frequent charge in 2017 — assault, rape and murder, and property-related charges such as vandalism or arson.
Of the known or identifiable 6,370-odd offenders reported to the FBI, about 51 percent were white. About 21.3 percent were black or African-American, and the race of the offenders was unknown for about 19 percent of the reported crimes.
What exactly the numbers mean for the U.S. is another question. This is the third consecutive year that hate crime reports have risen. However, the data relies entirely on the cooperation of local law enforcement agencies, and ProPublica reported last year that this communication chain often breaks down, which can minimize the appearance of crime and dim the national understanding of the frequency or severity of hate crimes. On the other hand, the numbers aren’t necessarily indicative of how many hate crimes actually occur across the U.S. — just the ones that are reported to police and logged accurately — so the rise could also could be the result of more local law enforcement agencies documenting such crimes. And the reports can involve multiple victims. However, the FBI emphasized in a news release that about 1,000 more law enforcement agencies are now reporting such data as compared to last year.
The nation’s top law enforcement agency said in a news release that it will provide further training on reporting hate crimes next year. Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker said in a statement that the FBI report is a “call to action.” Jeff Sessions, frequent Trump-target and former attorney general, had previously said he’d “aggressively” pursue hate crime investigations and prosecutions as well.
“I am particularly troubled by the increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes — which were already the most common religious hate crimes in the United States — that is well documented in this report,” Whitaker said in the statement. A few weeks ago, 11 people were shot and killed during a Saturday service at the Tree of Life synagogue near Pittsburgh in what’s being called the deadliest attack on Jews in American history.
Cover image: TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, alongside Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, place stones and flowers on a memorial as they pay their respects at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 30, 2018. Scores of protesters took to the streets of Pittsburgh to denounce a visit by US President Donald Trump in the wake of a mass shooting at a synagogue that left 11 people dead. Demonstrators gathered near the Tree of Life synagogue, where the shooting took place, holding signs that read 'President Hate, Leave Our State!' and 'Trump, Renounce White Nationalism Now.' (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)