According to the FBI, the U.S. saw another increase in hate crimes last year, with nearly 6 in 10 victims targeted due to their race or ethnicity. The report, released Monday, detailed more than 6,100 reported incidents of hate crimes in 2016, up from 5,800 in 2015.
Hate crimes motivated by hatred of a religion increased last year, with a rise in the number of crimes targeting Jews and Muslims. Of the incidents spurred by hatred of a particular religion, anti-Semitism was again the leading cause, motivating about 55 percent of those episodes, followed by anti-Muslim sentiment, which spurred about 25 percent. The number of hate crimes targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people also went up last year.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reported an increase in the number of American hate groups, and studies have shown increasing discrimination against Muslims and Jews in the U.S., contributing to what many feel is an acceleration of bias-related incidents.
“It’s deeply disturbing to see hate crimes increase for the second year in a row,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement Monday. “Hate crimes demand priority attention because of their special impact. They not only hurt one victim, but they also intimidate and isolate a victim’s whole community and weaken the bonds of our society.”
According to the FBI's report, 88 percent of jurisdictions voluntarily reporting to the hate crimes database indicated that "no hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions” in 2016. Because participation is voluntary, the report is considered an incomplete picture.
Then-FBI director James B. Comey, speaking earlier this year after a series of threats targeting Jewish schools and community centers, acknowledged as much, saying that the bureau needs “to do a better job of tracking and reporting hate crime, to fully understand what is happening in our communities, and how to stop it.”