Posted by Masood Farivar | 6 January 2018 | 1,770 times
The number of hate crimes in major U.S. cities rose for the third consecutive year last year, driven by attacks on Jews, Muslims, blacks and LGBT people, preliminary police data exclusively provided to VOA show.
At least 1,056 hate crimes were committed in the nation’s nine largest cities in 2017, an increase of 18 percent from 2016 levels, according to police data compiled by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino.
Several major metropolitan areas, such as Washington, Philadelphia, Seattle and Phoenix, reported double-digit increases in hate-based crimes, extending a trend that started in 2015 and accelerated during the contentious presidential election campaign in 2016.
Among the nation’s five largest cities, the overall increase in hate crimes was smaller; however, the number of reported incidents rose to 719 from 664, an uptick of 8 percent.
The slower rate of increase in those five cities was attributable to two notable declines.
New York City, the nation’s largest city, reported 339 hate crimes, a notch lower than 2016 levels, while Chicago, the third largest U.S. city, recorded 50 hate crimes through the first three-quarters of the year, a decline of 7 percent from the same period in 2016.
But the trajectory of hate crimes remains pointed upward, with 2017 likely to show another moderate rise after similar increases the past two years.
“Whether you have increases or declines, a lot of these cities are at or near multiyear highs,” said Brian Levin, director of the center for the study of hate and extremism.
Hate crime data are notoriously unreliable. The FBI publishes annual hate crime stats collected from thousands of police departments, but reporting is voluntary and most agencies don’t report any incidents.
The FBI’s report also lags by about a year. Its most recent report, released in November, showed there were 6,121 hate crimes in 2016, up 4.6 percent from 5,850 in 2015.
The FBI defines a hate crime as a criminal offense motivated by the victim’s race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or gender identity.
Historically, race has been by far the biggest motivator of hate crime in the United States, with blacks accounting for more than half the victims of race-based offenses.
Religion and sexual orientation are the next two drivers, although in recent years religion-based hate crimes have grown, with crimes targeting Muslims nearly doubling between 2014 and 2016.
In 2017, Jews and the LGBT community accounted for more than half of hate crime victims in the cities surveyed by Levin’s center. Blacks, nationally the most frequent target of hate crime, ranked No. 3, while Muslims, who account for 1 percent of the U.S. population, were at No. 4.
•Excerpted from a VOA report.
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