New national data shows hate-crime murders hit a 27-year high; the increase is attributable to the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue massacre.
The Anti-Defamation League called on lawmakers and law enforcement authorities to take action to address the deeply disturbing climate of hate in the United States after newly released FBI data showed that Jews and Jewish institutions were the overwhelming target of religion-based hate crimes last year, as they have been every year since 1991.
In its annual Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA) report, the FBI found that total hate crimes decreased slightly in 2018 after three consecutive years of increases. The agency reported 7,120 total hate crimes in 2018, compared to 7,175 in 2017. While religion-based hate crimes decreased by eight percent from 2017, nearly 60 percent of hate crime attacks were targeted against Jews and Jewish institutions in 2018.
“It is unacceptable that Jews and Jewish institutions continue to be at the center of religion-based hate crime attacks,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “We need to take concrete action to address and combat this significant problem. We strongly urge Congress to immediately pass the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality (NO HATE) Act. By improving hate crime training, prevention, best practices, and data collection, we can stem hate crimes nationwide.”
For 2018, the FBI reported that hate crime murders totaled 24, the highest since the FBI began tracking and reporting on hate crimes in 1991. The increase is attributable to 2018 having seen the deadliest anti-Semitic hate crime in American history, when 11 worshippers were murdered in the three congregations meeting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Race-based hate crimes were once again the most common type of hate crime, as in every previous year. Nearly 50 percent of race-based hate crimes were directed against African-Americans.
Hate crimes directed at LGBTQ individuals increased by almost six percent, including a significant 42 percent increase in crimes directed against transgender individuals, up from 119 in 2017 to 168 in 2018.
Anti-Hispanic hate crimes increased 14 percent, the third straight year of increased reporting, which is especially disturbing at a time ADL and others have documented escalating anti-immigrant rhetoric and bigotry.
Despite the decline in total hate crimes from 2017 to 2018, a serious reporting gap remains. The FBI data is based on voluntary local law enforcement reporting to the Bureau. 110 fewer law enforcement agencies participated in the HCSA program in 2018, failing to report any data, following record-high participation in 2017. In addition, at least 85 cities with populations exceeding 100,000 residents either did not report any data to the FBI or affirmatively reported zero hate crimes. Alabama and Wyoming reported zero hate crimes for 2018.
“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,” said Greenblatt. “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.”
ADL has updated its interactive hate crime map on the Internet with the latest FBI data. The map includes links to every hate crime law on the books in the U.S. and FBI hate crime data from 2004-2018 for states and cities with more than 100,000 residents. It gives users the ability to navigate hate crimes data and laws at the national, statewide and city level, and breaks out information on crimes against a broad spectrum of targeted populations.
The FBI’s findings complement ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents for 2018. The audit documented 1,879 criminal and non-criminal incidents against Jews and Jewish institutions. ADL’s audit counts non-criminal incidents such as hate speech, flier distribution, and other actions that may not be crimes in the state they occur, while the FBI only tracks hate crimes.