Property Hate-Crime Violence Hits 16-Year High, F.B.I. Reports

Property Hate-Crime Violence Hits 16-Year High, F.B.I. Reports

Property The bureau’s annual report showed a significant upswing in violence against Latinos.A tree in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, w

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Property The bureau’s annual report showed a significant upswing in violence against Latinos.A tree in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, where 11 worshipers were killed at a synagogue in October 2018.Credit…Michelle Gustafson for The New York TimesNov. 12, 2019Personal attacks motivated by bias or prejudice reached a 16-year high in 2018, the F.B.I. said Tuesday, with a significant upswing in violence against Latinos outpacing a drop in assaults targeting Muslims and Arab-Americans.Over all, the number of hate crimes of all kinds reported in the United States remained fairly flat last year after a three-year increase, according to an annual F.B.I. report. But while crimes against property were down, physical assaults against people were up, accounting for 61 percent of the 7,120 incidents classified as hate crimes by law enforcement officials nationwide.State and local police forces are not required to report hate crimes to the F.B.I., but the bureau has made a significant effort in recent years to increase awareness and response rates. Still, many cities and some entire states failed to collect or report the data last year, limiting the conclusions that can be drawn from the F.B.I. report.In addition, experts say that more than half of all victims of hate crimes never file a complaint with the authorities in the first place.Even so, the F.B.I. said there were 4,571 reported hate crimes against people in 2018, many of them in America’s largest cities, involving victims from a wide range of ethnic and religious backgrounds. “The trends show more violence, more interpersonal violence, and I think that’s probably reliable,” said James Nolan, a former F.B.I. crime analyst who helped oversee the National Hate Crime Data Collection Program from 1995-2000.The F.B.I. defines a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property, motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” Victims of hate crimes can include institutions, religious organizations and government entities as well as individuals.Here are the biggest takeaways from the report.Vandalism is down, but assaults are up. The 4,571 attacks against people tallied by the bureau for 2018 included aggravated assaults, which were up 4 percent; simple assaults, up 15 percent; and intimidation, up 13 percent. These trends happened despite a national decline in violent crime in general, and coincided with a 19 percent drop in bias-driven property crimes.The data points toward a change from young people committing vandalism and other property crimes toward more deliberate attacks on people, said Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, who produced an independent analysis of the F.B.I.’s figures“We’re seeing a shift from the more casual offender with more shallow prejudices to a bit more of an older assailant who acts alone,” Mr. Levin said. “There’s a diversifying base of groups that are being targeted. We’re getting back to more violence.”As immigration heats up, Latinos face more violence.Immigration has replaced terrorism as a top concern in the United States, according to national surveys. That shift appears to be reflected in the hate-crime data, which shows fewer attacks against Muslims and Arab-Americans in recent years, but more against Latinos.The F.B.I. said 485 hate crimes against Latinos were reported in 2018, up from 430 in 2017. It said 270 crimes were reported against Muslims and Arab-Americans, the fewest since 2014. But the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights group with chapters across the country, said it had recorded 1,664 hate crimes against Muslims in 2018.Robert McCaw, the group’s director of governmental affairs, said that while awareness and reporting of hate crimes have improved, daily acts of bullying or discriminations in schools, workplaces and in public are not included in the F.B.I.’s analysis, which focused on violent crimes. “We don’t know the full scope of anti-Muslim hate crimes and other hate crimes,” he said.Hate crimes against Latinos were at their highest level since 2010, when the unemployment rate and border crossings from Mexico were both peaking. Some advocates placed the blame for the recent rise on President Trump. “There’s a direct correlation between the hate speech and fear-mongering coming from President Trump and the right wing of the Republican Party with the increase in attacks against Latinos,” said Domingo Garcia, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens.Mr. Garcia said that immigration had replaced terrorism as the new “bogeyman” for the American right and predicted that the rise in hate crimes would not stop until the harsh rhetoric against Latinos had ended. Hate crimes have increased in America’s largest cities.Although nationwide F.B.I. data for all of 2019 won’t be available until next November, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism examined hate-crime reports so far this year in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and found that all three cities — plus the nation’s capital — appear to be headed for decade highs.Hate crimes against Asian-Americans, African-Americans and Muslims are down in New York, the center said, but reports of anti-Semitic hate crimes are driving the overall total up. Of the 364 hate crimes reported in New York through Nov. 3, the center said, 148 targeted Jewish people. There were 295 hate crimes reported in the city over the comparable period in 2018. “The surge of attacks on the Jewish community, in large cities like New York and in smaller cities like Pittsburgh and Poway, really has no precedent,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, referring to deadly shootings at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last year and one near San Diego in April. “The severity of these incidents seems to be increasing in both their aggressiveness and physicality,” he added.In Los Angeles, 249 hate crimes were reported in the first nine months of 2019, up from 217 in the same period last year. And Chicago had 77 reported hate crimes through early November, compared with 78 for the whole of 2018. Most places reported zero hate crimes to the F.B.I. The great majority — 87 percent — of the 16,039 law enforcement agencies that sent data to the F.B.I. for 2018 said no hate crimes were reported in their jurisdiction during the year. Twenty-five cities with populations of more than 150,000 people reported no hate crimes, including Plano and Laredo, Tex.; Newark; St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Madison, Wis. No hate crimes were reported by any law enforcement agency in Alabama or Wyoming.Mr. Nolan, the former F.B.I. analyst, said he and his colleagues had sought to improve the accuracy of hate crime data, but with little success. “It was all lip service; it was never funded,” he said. Compiling crime statistics is not one of the bureau’s major priorities, Mr. Nolan said, though the former director, James Comey, tried to elevate the task, saying in 2014 about tracking hate crimes: “It is not something we can ignore or sweep under the rug.”Mr. Nolan said the spottiness of the data doesn’t invalidate attempts to determine which types of hate crimes are on the rise, though. “All crimes are underreported; it doesn’t make them useless that they’re underreported,” he said. “You have to be savvy enough to look at the trend lines and see the trends. It tells you something about what’s going on.”
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