FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 13th, 2018
Earlier today, the FBI released its annual hate crimes statistics report for 2017. The data, while a vast underestimate of the violence our communities face, continues to show an increase in hate crimes for the third year in a row. The number of hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2017 went up to 7,175 from 6,121 in 2016, representing a 17% increase, a significant jump from the five percent increase between 2015 and 2016. This is an alarming upward trend of hate crimes – now consistently surpassing the spike immediately after September 11, 2001. The surge in hate crimes against Sikh and Arab Americans, which rose by 243% and 100% respectively since 2016 is particularly disturbing. And, while the overall number of hate crimes targeting Muslim Americans decreased by 11%, the 2017 total of 273 anti-Muslim hate crimes continues to be a historically high number. Since November 2016, SAALT’s data on incidents of hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab Americans show that over 80% of the documented incidents are motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment.
Underreporting of hate crimes by local law enforcement agencies to the FBI remains a major problem. According to ProPublica’s “Documenting Hate” project, thousands of local law enforcement agencies choose not to report hate crimes statistics to the FBI at all; of those that do participate, 88% reported zero hate crimes in 2016 closely mirroring the 87% who reported zero hate crimes in 2017. A separate ProPublica investigation revealed that 120 federal agencies have not complied with mandates to submit hate crime data to the FBI. In fact, the FBI itself does not consistently submit the hate crimes it investigates to its own database. We echo the concern shared by our partners at the Arab American Institute, identifying glaring omissions from the 2017 hate crimes statistics. In particular, the failure to include Srinivas Kuchibhotla’s 2017 murder at the hands of a white supremacist in Olathe, Kansas. His killer, Adam Purinton, was convicted on a federal hate crimes charge earlier this year.
The lack of political will on the part of the Department of Justice to collect this critical data combined with this administration’s flawed approach to understanding and addressing hate crimes makes us all less safe and places a burden of data collection on communities. Additionally, this administration’s continued refusal to acknowledge the growing problem of white supremacy ignores the primary motivation behind the violence targeting our communities. The 2017 FBI data shows that of the over 6,000 hate crimes where the race of the offender was reported, over 50% of the perpetrators were identified as white. SAALT’s data as illustrated in our 2018 report Communities on Fire report found that perpetrators of hate violence referenced President Trump, a Trump administration policy, or a Trump campaign slogan in one out of every five hate incidents documented. White supremacist violence, fanned by the flames of racist rhetoric and policies at the federal level, has devastated marginalized communities. Until this administration confronts this crisis, we will continue to face a surge in hate crimes aimed at our communities.