WASHINGTON — The number of hate crime incidents reported in the United States jumped by 17 percent last year to more than 7,000 – the largest increase since 2001 when the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, led to a surge in bias-motivated crimes.
The increase, reported Tuesday by the FBI, marks the third annual jump in hate crimes and includes a double-digit increase in anti-Arab and anti-Semitic incidents.
The report comes two weeks after a white supremacist killed 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, renewing a national debate over rising hate crime and calls for the Trump administration to do more to stem its tide.
The FBI, which collects hate crime data from law enforcement agencies around the country, defines 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.”
In 2015 and 2016, hate crime incidents rose by 6.8 percent and 4.6 percent respectively.
Race and ethnicity remained the largest drivers of hate crimes in the U.S. in 2017, with more than 2,000 anti-African-American hate incidents reported, accounting for almost half of all crimes motivated by race or ethnicity. Anti-Arab hate crimes doubled to 102 incidents.
Religion came in second as a motivator of hate crimes, with religious-based incidents rising 23 percent. Anti-Jewish incidents jumped 37 percent to 938 incidents.
Anti-Muslim hate crimes fell, but remained above historic levels, with 273 anti-Muslim incidents reported. In 2015 and 2016, anti-Muslim hate crimes increased nearly 90 percent.
“We were bracing for a considerable spike, and even increased our forecast because throughout the year, as we kept collecting a raft of double-digit increases from some very large jurisdictions,” said Brian Levin, director of Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino.