New FBI hate crimes statistics show disturbing surge in hate crimes


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.