Hate crimes on the rise according to FBI report

Hate crimes on the rise according to FBI report

"Our sense of justice compels us to address the core issues facing not only the Jewish people but all people in our country in pursuit of a civil society," said the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga (pictured) in a statement.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Taylor

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is reporting another increase in hate crimes, but the question now is whether Cleveland is following the national trend.

According to the recently released annual FBI report on hate crimes during 2017, the frequency of hate crimes in the U.S. since 2016 increased by 17 percent. The New York Times reported this spike is the third consecutive increase in such incidents.

Detailed in a press release summarizing the FBI's report, 7,175 incidents of hate crimes nationwide were reported in 2017.

Sgt. Evie West of the Cleveland Police Department clarified that, although the national rates of incidents have increased, the occurrences of hate crimes in the Cleveland and greater Chattanooga area has not grown. 

“We have not seen an increase [in hate crime] in our community,” West said. “Thankfully, we have not been affected by these statistics.”

Assistant Professor of Political Science Dr. Mark Scully noted the 17 percent increase may not reflect an actual increase in incidents. Scully pointed to the fact that 16,149 law enforcement agencies submitted hate crime reports to the FBI in 2017, while only 15,254 agencies submitted reports in 2016.

“Federal and state officials are very proactive in addressing hate crimes,” Scully said. “The federal government can prosecute individuals under civil rights statutes, and it also plays a strong supporting role for state and local law enforcement.”

Chief of the FBI Crime Statistics Management Unit Amy Blasher released a statement noting the difference in the Nov. 15 edition of the FBI report.

“Having an increase in participating agencies allows us to have a more complete picture of hate crime incidents throughout the nation,” Blasher said.

According to the report, of the reported incidents nationwide, 59.6 percent involved racial bias, 20.6 percent involved religious bias, 15.8 percent involved sexual orientation bias and the remaining 4 percent involving a mix of disability, gender identity and gender biases.

Places of worship, such as churches, synagogues, mosques and temples were the site of 4.1 percent of hate crimes, according to the report.

Notably, last year saw a significant increase in the frequency of hate crimes perpetrated against practitioners of Judaism—a 37 percent increase from 684 incidents in 2016 to 938 incidents in 2017, the highest rate of incidents against Jewish people since 2008.

The FBI report for 2017 was published scarcely two weeks after eleven people were killed in a mass shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the Tree of Life Congregation on Oct. 27, the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States to date.

In a statement, the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga (JFGC) condemned the anti-Semitic motivations behind the attack while emphasizing the importance of change.

“We are outraged that hatred and a senseless act of violence has once again taken innocent human lives,” the JFGC said. “Our sacred texts teach us the fundamentals to which we adhere—every human being is created in the image of the divine and that we are each responsible for one another. Our sense of justice compels us to address the core issues facing not only the Jewish people but all people in our country in pursuit of a civil society.”

A detailed summary of the 2017 FBI hate crime report is available to the public and can be accessed on their website. Past years’ reports can also be accessed via an index of reports.

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