Outgoing Attorney General Loretta Lynch addressed the “alarming trends” in recently released 2015 hate crime data in a video statement posted to YouTube by the Justice Department Friday.
Among them, Lynch cited a 67 percent increase in hate crimes committed against Muslim-Americans. According to FBI data released Monday, that’s the biggest surge since weeks and months that followed 9/11, when anti-Muslim hate crimes went up 1,554 percent from the prior year.
“These numbers should be deeply sobering for all Americans,” Lynch said of the most recent data.
The data also showed an increase in the numbers of crimes committed against African-Americans, Jewish people, and the LGBTQ community, according to Lynch.
Overall, hate crime went up 6 percent, she said.
Lynch said she was aware of the concerns over the “spate” of recent alleged hate crimes and reports. “The FBI is assessing, in conjunction with federal prosecutors, whether particular incidents constitute violations of federal law,” Lynch said.
While the FBI doesn’t yet have data to release for 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has been tracking reports of hateful incidents since Donald Trump’s stunning win in the presidential election on November 8.
Between the day after the election, Wednesday, November 9, and Monday, November 14, the SPLC has collected 437 “reports of hateful intimidation and harassment,” a majority of them anecdotal but confirmed by the center. By far, the largest number of incidents were anti-immigrant, at 136, with anti-Muslim harassment within the top five.
The New York City Police Department announced a 31 percent increase year-to-date in hate crimes on Wednesday. Hate crimes targeting Muslims more than doubled this year, from 12 to 25, according to the report.
Lynch ended her broadcast with an assurance to the American people that the Justice Department would continue fighting these crimes as long as necessary.
“It’s about making sure all Americans receive the protection of the law, and it’s about giving real meaning to our shared belief that all people are created equal,” she said. “Put simply, this work is the right and just thing to do.”
Her words come the same day Trump selected Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, an anti-immigration hardliner, as his choice to fill Lynch’s role of attorney general. In 1986, a Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee rejected Sessions’ nomination for a federal judgeship after racist remarks he reportedly made came to light during the proceedings. Sessions now sits on the committee.