Violent hate crimes in US reach highest levels in 16 years, FBI reports

Violent hate crimes and threats have reached their highest levels in the US in 16 years, with a surge in attacks against Latinos and transgender people in 2018, according to new FBI data.
 The data comes from more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies. Overall, the agencies reported a slight decrease in total hate crime reports, which include crimes against property, from 7,175 incidents in 2017 to 7,120 last year. But the number of reports of hate crimes against people, increased from 4,090 to 4,571, a roughly 12% jump.
In other words, the most serious and violent forms of hate crimes are increasing to dramatic levels, said Brian Levin, the director for the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, who analyzed the data.
“This is really significant,” said Levin, noting that the 16-year high has occurred despite an overall decline in crime across the country. In recent years, the spikes in incidents have consistently correlated with political attacks against specific marginalized groups, he said: “The more we have these derisive stereotypes broadcasted into the ether, the more people are going to inhale that toxin.”
There were a total of 485 reports of anti-Latino crimes last year, a 14% increase from 2017, and 168 crimes targeting trans and gender-nonconforming people, marking a 41% increase. Reported attacks against Sikhs also tripled, from 20 incidents in 2017 to 60 in 2018, according to the FBI statistics. Attacks against people with disabilities also surged by 37% to 159 incidents last year.
The FBI’s data found a decrease in hate crimes against Muslims and Arab-Americans last year as well as a decrease in antisemitic incidents. Reported hate crimes against African Americans also decreased in 2018.
The data, which experts caution is incomplete and likely a significant undercount, comes amid growing white nationalist threats and racist violence across the globe.
The Trump administration has also escalated its policy attacks and rhetoric targeting Latinos, immigrants, asylum seekers and undocumented people. As the FBI released its new data Tuesday, the president tweeted falsehoods about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) recipients, known as Dreamers, saying some were “hardened criminals”. Dreamers, who were brought to the country at young ages, are not eligible for Daca if they have serious criminal records.
Trump has also repeatedly pushed anti-LGBT policies, and he and and other Republicans have aggressively targeted trans rights and advocated for discriminatory laws.
Increased visibility of trans people has made them more vulnerable to attacks and violence, said Khloe Rios, a manager at Bienestar, a Los Angeles not-for-profit that provides services to trans people: “We as trans individuals suffer the backlash of this awareness … Visibility harms people if it’s not done with care.”
Rios experienced this firsthand when she and a group of other trans women were forcibly dragged out of a downtown LA bar in September: “As a trans woman of color, I still fear for my life walking down the streets,” she said.
Jorge Gutierrez, the executive director of Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, a national LGBTQ immigrant rights group, said the president’s “white supremacist rhetoric and talking points that vilify people” were encouraging racist violent attacks.
“Every day, people are afraid to come together in public spaces. People are afraid to be proud of who they are,” he said.
Levin said his review of preliminary 2019 data has found continued increases in hate crimes in cities across the US this year. He predicted it could get worse: “We are going through a presidential election and an impeachment … We expect to see a spike in hate crimes and violent political confrontations.”
Violent hate crimes in US reach highest levels in 16 years, FBI reports Violent hate crimes in US reach highest levels in 16 years, FBI reports Reviewed by Your Destination on November 13, 2019 Rating: 5

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