FBI: Reported Hate Crimes Decline From Last Year, Jews Still Targeted

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The FBI’s newly released 2018 Hate Crime Statistics Act report shows the number of hate crimes down slightly — including those targeting Jews — following three consecutive years of increases.

That said, Jews remain the most common victims of religiously motivated hate crimes, according to the Anti-Defamation League. That’s been true since the FBI began issuing the report in 1991.

And 105 of those crimes against Jews were violent in nature, an increase from 73 the previous year.

There were 55 fewer hate crimes reported in 2018 than 2017 — 7,120 compared to 7,175. However, the figures may be impacted somewhat because of decreased reporting from law enforcement, with 110 fewer agencies participating in 2018 than in a record-high 2017.

Religion-based hate crimes comprised 21.8% of all hate crimes, with 57.8% of religion-based crimes targeting Jewish people or Jewish institutions in 2018. There were 835 crimes targeting Jews in 2018 versus 938 in 2017.

The highest number of religion-based crimes targeting Jews was in 1996 with 1,109. Anti-Jewish hate crimes started to decline in 2008 until beginning to rise in 2015. There were more than 1,000 additional hate crimes reported in 2017 than 2016, with a 37% spike in anti-Jewish crimes.

While the total number of hate crimes reported declined, Nancy Baron-Baer, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of Philadelphia, said caveats must be considered when assessing the figures. She cautioned that the FBI’s statistics are likely low, with 16,039 law enforcement agencies submitting reports, down from the record number 16,149 that participated in 2017.

Of the jurisdictions reporting, 87.4% noted no hate crimes. That includes at least 85 cities with populations exceeding 100,000 people and the entire states of Alabama and Wyoming. Of the reporting agencies, 2,210 agencies in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware affirmatively reported zero hate crimes. This includes the cities of Allentown; Paterson, New Jersey; and Newark, New Jersey.

“For people to say that the number of hate crimes is down by that 55 is somewhat misleading because two states, Alabama and Wyoming, did not report,” Baron-Baer. “So the totals are missing the incidents that may have occurred in those two states. In addition, 87.4% of all those agencies that participated affirmatively reported zero hate crimes. We all know that is impossible.”

In a statement, ADL CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt called for support of legislation to further combat hate crimes.

“Our nation cannot address crimes that we are not measuring. ADL is working with our coalition and other civil rights, education, and interfaith partners to make sure cities report credible data. This starts with training our nation’s law enforcement officers to identify, report, and respond to those targeted by hate violence,” Greenblatt said. “ADL calls on the FBI and Department of Justice to take similar steps with local law enforcement agencies and the courts to address underreporting of hate crimes.”

Here are some yearly statistics:

Anti-Jewish hate crime incidents

  • 2014: 609
  • 2015: 664
  • 2016: 684
  • 2017: 938
  • 2018: 835

Total hate crime incidents

  • 2014: 5,479
  • 2015: 5,850
  • 2016: 6,121
  • 2017: 7,175
  • 2018: 7,120

Looking at available FBI numbers since 1996, the total number of hate crimes is below the high of 2001, when 9,730 were reported.

The latest report shows 59.5% of all single-bias hate crime incidents were race-based in 2018, with almost half of the crimes committed against African Americans. Hate crimes against Hispanics increased by 14%, climbing for the third year in a row. LGBTQ individuals also saw an increase by almost 6%, with a 42% jump in hate crimes directed at transgender individuals.

In Pennsylvania, 1,480 agencies were eligible to report, with just 15 filing incident reports for 67 hate crimes. That represents a 14% decrease from 2017, which was the highest total in the commonwealth since 2007 and a 27% increase from 2016. Of the crimes reported, 19 were characterized as religion-based.

The report also showed 2018 had the highest number of hate crime murders since the FBI began tracking and reporting hate crimes in 1991, with 24 murders. Contributing to that number were the 11 worshippers murdered in the mass shooting at the Tree of Life complex in Pittsburgh.

Hate crime statistics are voluntarily submitted by thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country and compiled annually by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program. The program was originally created in 1929 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police to help law enforcement gather consistent information across different departments. In 1990, Congress passed the Hate Crime Statistics Act. Ever since, the UCR Program has been responsible for fulfilling the congressional mandate to collect hate crime data.

The report defines a hate crime as “a committed criminal offense which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias(es) against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.”

“It is unacceptable that Jews and Jewish institutions continue to be at the center of religion-based hate crime attacks,” Greenblatt said. “We need to take concrete action to address and combat this significant problem. By improving hate crime training, prevention, best practices and data collection, we can stem hate crimes nationwide.”

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