WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an annual hate crimes report released this week, the FBI announced that 2019 saw a record high number of hate crime murders in the United States.
Hate crimes are described by the FBI as an offense “motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender and gender identity.”
In 2019, 51 people were murdered as a result of hate crimes, which is more than double than that of 2018, and the largest number of people since the government began tracking the data in the 1990s.
This total does include a mass shooting in El Paso, TX in late August 2019 that killed 23 people.
Overall, the FBI reported that there were 7,314 hate crimes with 8,552 victims in 2019, which was a 2.7 percent increase over 2018.
“The FBI’s report is another reminder that we have much work to do to address hate in America,” Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) President and CEO Margaret Huang said. “Each of these incidents represents the targeting of an individual or community for violence or vandalism because of their identity or personal characteristics.”
More than half of the offenders in the crimes cited targeted individuals because of bias against their race, ethnicity or ancestry. Religious bias accounted for 21 percent of the crimes and 16 percent of the crimes were motivated by sexual orientation.
The number of hate crimes against specific ethnicities included 527 crimes against Hispanics, 953 against Jewish people and institutions, and 1,943 against African Americans.
While the FBI data represents a detailed study on hate crimes, advocates believe it still does not capture the true extent of hate crimes.
Out of 15,588 law enforcement agencies nationwide that participate with the FBI crime data, only 2,000 reported at least one hate crime in 2019.
“The total severity of the impact and damage caused by hate crimes cannot be fully measured without complete participation,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. “While some of the increase in 2019 may be the product of better reporting in some jurisdictions, it is critical to improve training at local law enforcement agencies across the country.”
The data also showed a 24 percent increase in anti-bisexual hate crimes and an 18 percent increase in crimes against transgender people.
Becky Monroe, director of the Fighting Hate and Bias program at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said that the numbers are alarming.
“2019 marks the deadliest year on record since the hate crimes reporting program started in 1991,” she said. “This is especially alarming considering that the number of law enforcement agencies voluntarily reporting their figures has decreased, which means the report only captures a fraction of actual incidents of hate crimes. These acts of hate and violence are horrific and reflect the harmful policies and rhetoric of the Trump administration; targeting people of color, religious minorities, immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community over the last four years.”
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