Hate Crimes on the Rise in the United States

In 2016, CNN reported that the number of hate crimes reached a five-year high, with a noticeable increase toward the end of 2016 after the presidential election results.

American Flag

The FBI recently released a report which broke that statistic down—in 2016, there were 6,121 reported hate crimes. Keep in mind, this is the number of reported hate crimes, and is a five percent increase from 2015. The “reported” qualifier is significant—88 percent of participating law enforcement agencies reported no hate crimes in their jurisdictions.

Since it is highly unlikely that nearly 90 percent of law enforcement agencies actually had no hate crimes, the more likely explanation is that these crimes simply were not reported. In fact, the Bureau of Justice estimated that there were at least 250,000 hate crimes in the U.S. in 2016—about 40 times the FBI numbers.

Children Feeling Racial Tensions in Classrooms

Some believe this increase in hate crimes is closely tied to President Trump’s campaign rallies, which were fairly regularly marked by some type of violence. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that the Trump campaign even produced “an alarming level of fear and anxiety” among children of color, “inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom.” Teachers have reported increases in harassment, intimidation and bullying toward those students whose nationality, religion or race have been verbal targets of campaign-trail candidates. A full two-thirds of the teachers surveyed by the Southern Poverty Law Center stated their students had expressed fears regarding what would happen to them or to their families following the election.

Who Was Targeted for Hate Crimes?

The FBI study found that nearly 60 percent of the victims of hate crimes were specifically targeted due to their race, ancestry or ethnicity. Twenty-one percent were targeted because of their religious affiliation, and 16.7 percent were targeted because of their sexual orientation. Further, the FBI found that anti-Muslim crimes were up more than 20 percent, and anti-Jewish crimes were up 16 percent. As far as those committing the hate crimes, the majority (83.8 percent) were over the age of 18, and while 46 percent were white, 26 percent of the offenders were black.

Types of Hate Crimes Committed

The types of hate crime offenses included intimidation (28.8 percent), destruction, damage or vandalism against property of the targeted person (26.1 percent) simple assault (23 percent) and aggravated assault (11.9 percent). There were also 9 murders and 24 rapes which fell under hate crimes occurring in 2016. In the 10 days following the 2016 election, there were nearly 90 hate incidents reported each day, for a total of nearly 900 hate crimes in ten days. To put this into perspective, between the years of 2010 and 2015, there were about 16 reported hate crimes per day (according to the FBI).

The Problems With Hate Crime Statistics

The biggest problem with the tracking of hate crimes is that the federal government does not systematically track these crimes, rather agencies voluntarily report to the FBI, and the Southern Poverty Law Center compiles their statistics through self-reports—which may not always be entirely accurate. Many law enforcement agencies do not report their hate crimes to the FBI—as an example, there is no data at all from Hawaii. The FBI only collects data on prosecutable hate crimes—a mere fraction of the overall hate incidents.

Incidents include such non-prosecutable offenses such as circulating white nationalist recruiting brochures. The Southern Poverty Law Center collects information on both hate crimes and hate incidents. Because there was an increase in news coverage of hate incidents following the election, more people could have been prompted to come forward and report a hate incident they might not otherwise have done. Taking all of this into consideration, the statistics from the Southern Poverty Law Center as well as the FBI still found there were more hate incidents in some states than in others.

Income Inequality Tied to Hate Crimes

One factor stood out when the “why” behind hate crimes was studied, and that factor was income inequality. Among states where income inequality was more pronounced, there tended to be higher rates of hate crimes per capita, both before and after the election. When education, diversity, percent of nonwhite population, percent of noncitizen population, geographic heterogeneity, economic health, unemployment and income equality were all factored into the equation, income inequality was the most significant determinant of population-adjusted hate crimes.

The second factor which had an impact on hate crimes was the percentage of the population with a high school degree. Income inequality has long been known as a factor in neighborhood violence, and violence in general. In a world which increasingly demands a college degree, those with high school educations simply cannot earn as much as those with a degree. When combined with misplaced blame on minority groups, this factor turns into motivation for hate crimes. Mark Potok, editor-in-chief of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s journal, claims that when income inequality is high, anger and resentment increase among those on the lower income scale.

Increasing Discrimination Against Muslims and Jews

Pew Research Center study found that anti-Muslim discrimination is on the rise—and that Muslims are one of the United States’ fastest-growing religious minorities. This study found that Muslims in America are largely anxious about their place in the U.S., particularly since the election. The study consisted of 1,001 Muslims who were questioned about discriminatory or hate incidents. A whopping 48 percent of the respondents said they had been subjected to at least one discriminatory incident based on their religion within the past year. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed felt there was “a lot” of discrimination against Muslims in American, and more than three-quarters felt the president was “unfriendly” toward Muslims (only 4 percent felt that way about President Obama).

One-fifth of the Muslims surveyed said they had been called offensive names, and about the same number have seen anti-Muslim graffiti in their community. Six percent said they had been attacked or at least physical threatened within the past year. The Muslims most likely to experience such name-calling, physical threats and attacks are those who appear Muslim, whether through their dress, their speech, or the way they look. Finally, almost a third of the Muslims surveyed believed their phones were being tapped by the government due solely to their religion.

The Jewish community has also experienced an uptick in threats over the past year, particularly to Jewish schools and institutions. A rash of anonymous bomb threats against the Jewish Community’s day schools, synagogues and other Jewish organizations and institutions prompted some senators to call for action, calling the threats “unacceptable” and “un-American.”

Why Do People Join Hate Groups?

Despite being surrounded by counter-protesters and even maced by the police, the white nationalist movement appears to be growing stronger. In fact, following the displays of hatred in Charlottesville, Virginia, membership in hate groups actually increased. Experts say that hate has any number of psychological roots. These include lack of exposure to different types of people, or even a dislike of a particular characteristic within one’s own identity.

Even so, it is difficult for many of us to imagine what could prompt a person to join a hate group. Experts in the psychological field believe receiving implicit permission is a central factor among those who join hate groups—reading comments from other members of a hate group, or watching a hate group rally can prompt a person who might not otherwise have participated in hate crimes to join a hate group.

The Internet offers such a proliferation of hate propaganda, that white supremacy, in particular, has gained members in larger numbers than have been seen in decades. Dr. A.J. Marsden, assistant professor of psychology at Beacon College in Florida believes hate is largely based in fear—fear of anything that is different, anything that falls outside a person’s definition of “normal,” and fear of the unknown.

Human beings tend to establish themselves in tribes of sorts, so they can identify with others who are essentially the same as they are. As an example, Marsden points to the hatred in the U.S. toward Muslims, saying most people do not understand the Muslim religion, and because there are a small portion of Muslims who engage in violent actions, there is a certain fear toward Muslims as a whole.

Marsden also believes that when a person believes, deep down in their innermost regions, that there is at least a small part of them like the person they claim to hate, these internal insecurities can translate into hatred. As an example, a person who might believe they have at least a part of them that could be attracted to the same sex, tend to be the ones who are the most hostile, homophobic and aggressive toward the LGBT community.

Major Cities Most Likely to Experience Hate Crimes

The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino also studied the increase in hate crimes. Among cities with populations over 250,000, hate crime incidents rose 20 percent in 2016, with only two cities—Riverside, California, and Columbus, Ohio, showing decreases in hate crimes. The six largest cities in America (NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix, Houston and Philadelphia), showed a cumulative increase in hate crime incidents of 22.4 percent, however the numbers varied significantly from city to city.

The following Washington Post reported that the following statistics were recorded for these six largest cities: While Phoenix saw a staggering 46 percent increase in hate crimes, Houston, the 4th-largest city in the U.S. reported only five hate crime incidents throughout the entire year. New York City hate crimes increased by 28.4 percent, Chicago by 8.3 percent. Los Angeles by 13 percent, and Philadelphia by 9 percent. To name just a few of these hate crimes—which were all committed by white supremacists, an African-American man was stabbed in NYC, two men protecting a Muslim woman in Portland, Oregon were stabbed to death, and a protester in Charlottesville, Virginia was killed.

Other Factors Involved in Hate Crimes in the U.S.

So why are so few hate crimes actually reported? The primary reasons those who are victims of hate crimes give for not reporting the crime include:

  • Afraid of reprisals
  • Believe the police either would not or could not help
  • Dealt with another way
  • Were advised by others not to report

When you consider that between 2007 and 2011 only 4 percent of the reported hate incidents ended in an arrest, you can see why victims might be hesitant to report these incidents. The hate groups with the most reports of hate incidents against others include:

  • KKK
  • Neo-Confederate
  • White Nationalist
  • Black Separatist
  • Racist Skinhead
  • Neo Nazi
  • Christian Identity

Where do hate crimes occur? About a third of all hate crimes occur in the victim’s home, while 16 percent occur in a commercial venue, and 24 percent occur in a parking lot or on public transportation. The states with the highest number of active hate groups include Oklahoma, Alabama and Mississippi, although the states with the most hate groups are California, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio and Virginia.

What About Hate Crimes Against Whites?

While we generally assume that hate crimes are always against minority groups, the FBI has released one rather interesting statistic—in 2016, there were 876 reported anti-white hate crime offenses—up from 734 in 2015, and, in fact, are the fastest growing group of hate-crime victims. This could be a backlash of sorts for the majority of hate crimes which are committed by white hate groups. Research suggests, however, that white people now believe bias against whites is more of a problem than bias against black people. When 417 black and white respondents were asked to gauge how large a problem anti-black bias in America was in each decade—from the 1950s to the present—then asked the same question regarding anti-white bias, the answers were somewhat surprising.

While both black and white Americans believed anti-black bias had decreased over the decades, whites believed that decrease was more dramatic than blacks did. When asked about anti-white bias, there were significant differences in the views of blacks and whites. Black respondents saw virtually no anti-white bias in any decade, including the present. White respondents claimed that bias against whites began climbing in the 60’s and 70’s, reaching an all-time high over the past decade. White Americans are more likely to believe that the advancement of one group in the U.S. comes at the expense of another group—largely white Americans. White Americans also find the changing demographics in our nation threatening, fearing they will end up on the bottom of the “status pile.”

In short, there is very little agreement on how to end the many types of hatred—and hate crimes—in the United States, therefore hate crimes are likely to continue to rise.

Contact Our Jackson Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you are arrested and charged with a hate crime in Jackson, Hattiesburg, Meridian, or anywhere in the State of Mississippi, you need to fight for your rights and protect your freedom. The best way to do this is to hire an experienced Jackson criminal defense attorney immediately.

At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe in fighting aggressively for our clients and we can build a defense that is designed to expose the holes in the prosecution’s case against you.Contact Coxwell & Associates today at (601) 265-7766 or via the button below.

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