- The Washington Times - Monday, November 13, 2017

The number of hate crimes reported to U.S. law enforcement in 2016 rose by 4.6 percent over the prior year, driven in part by upticks in race-motivated incidents against whites and Hispanics, and religion-motivated incidents targeting Muslims and Jews, according to FBI data released Monday.

About 57 percent of the 6,121 incidents reported to law enforcement were motivated by race or ethnicity, with the half of race-related crimes motivated by anti-black bias.

Religion-motivated crimes accounted for 21.0 percent of incidents and crimes motivated by sexual orientation accounted for 17 percent of incidents.

Anti-black bias accounted for the largest number of crimes motivated by a single bias, with 1,739 incidents reported. But the number of anti-black crimes remained about even with the number reported in 2015.

However, anti-white and anti-Hispanic race-motivated crimes both increased in 2016. Anti-white incidents increased from 613 incidents in 2015 to 720 incidents in 2016. Crimes motivated by anti-Hispanic bias increased from 299 to 344 incidents during that time, anti-Native American bias increased from 131 to 154 incidents, and anti-Arab bias increased from 37 to 51. Crimes motivated by anti-Asian bias remained even.

The incidents were reported by nearly 16,000 law enforcement agencies and affected a total of 7,615 victims. The victim totals could include individuals, businesses, government entities or society as a whole.

While the data provides a way to compare annual hate crime statistics, the number of actual hate crime incidents is believed to drastically under reported, according to advocacy groups.

The Anti-Defamation League noted that nearly 90 cities with more than 100,000 residents either reported no hate crimes in 2016 or did not provide any data to the FBI.

“There’s a dangerous disconnect between the rising problem of hate crimes and the lack of credible data being reported,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt. “Police departments that do not report credible data to the FBI risk sending the message that this is not a priority issue for them, which may threaten community trust in their ability and readiness to address hate violence.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department is currently engaging with state and local leaders and to find ways to better prevent and prosecute hate crimes. A report from the department’s hate crimes task force is due next year, but Mr. Sessions noted other steps being taken in the meantime — highlighting the DOJ’s decision to appoint a prosecutor from the civil rights division to assist prosecution of a man accused of killing a transgender teenager.

“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that individuals can live without fear of being a victim of violent crime based on who they are, what they believe, or how they worship,” Mr. Sessions said.

Crimes motivated by a religious bias were the second-most reported type of hate crime.

Anti-Jewish bias was the motivation cited in a little more than half of the 1,273 religion-related hate crimes.

Incidents targeting Jews increased from 664 incidents in 2015 to 684 incidents in 2016. But incidents motivated by anti-Muslim bias saw the greatest increase out of religion-motivated crimes. Incidents targeting Muslims rose 19 percent from 257 to 307 incidents.

Anti-Catholic crimes also increased by 9 incidents. Crimes motivated by bias against Protestants and Eastern Orthodox Christians both declined.

Crimes motivated by bias against sexual orientation accounted for 1,076 incidents reported. Crimes motivated by gender identity-bias accounted for 124 incidents.

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