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Violent Hate Crimes Reach 16-Year High in United States

The number of violent hate crimes reported in the United States in 2018 was the highest in 16 years, according to the FBI.

The U.S. Department of Justice defines a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property, motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

Although the total number of reported hate crimes in the United States de­creased from 2017 to 2018, the number of offenses rose 12 percent. Physical assaults against people also increased, accounting for 61 percent of the incidents, according to FBI data released in November 2019. Of the 7,120 hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2018, 4,571 were crimes against persons, including intimidation, assault, rape, and murder.

Destruction, damage, or vandalism accounted for 1,876 of the hate crime incidents in 2018.

Around 60 percent of the crimes were motivated by race, ethnicity, or ancestry bias. Attacks against Latino or transgender people rose significantly in 2018; 485 crimes were determined to be anti-Latino, compared to 430 in 2017. Since 2016, crimes targeting Latinos rose by 41 percent. Hate crimes against transgender people increased 34 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Advocacy groups claim that many hate crimes are not counted, however. According to The New York Times, 87 percent of the 16,039 law enforcement agencies that submitted crime data to the FBI in 2018 reported no hate crimes in their jurisdictions that year. State and local police forces are not required to report hate crimes to the FBI.

A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, the National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality Act of 2017 (H.R. 1566), would mandate new action to obtain more accurate hate crime statistics, including training law enforcement to recognize hate crimes and setting up reporting hotlines. No further action has been taken on the bill, however.