Posted by Kai Wiggins on August 08, 2018 in Blog

The sixth anniversary of the shooting at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, which left six Sikh Americans dead and multiple wounded, was on Sunday, August 5. This week, on August 12, we will observe the second anniversary of the hate crime murder of Khalid Jabara in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the first anniversary of the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a man drove a car into a crowd of anti-racist counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and wounding many others. The driver is facing federal hate crime charges.

One thing we can do to honor hate crime victims is to advocate an improved response to hate crime in American communities. State legislatures must pass criminal statutes offering inclusive protections for hate crime victims, enact requirements for hate crime reporting and data collection on the part of state and local law enforcement, and compel state-level police officer training commissions to provide mandatory instruction relating to hate crime and cultural awareness for basic and in-service training. 

While necessary, new legislation alone is not sufficient for an improved response to hate crime. State and local governments and law enforcement agencies must demonstrate a commitment to preventing hate crime, serving communities, and protecting victims. Last month, we released the inaugural edition of Rating the Response, our state-by-state resource guide on hate crime laws, reporting, and data collection. Our findings demonstrate that few states have passed legislation necessary for an improved response to hate crime. Our research into hate crime reporting and data collection also suggests that law enforcement and other government agencies, in some states more than others, are not positioned to effectively respond to hate crime.

In 2016, for example, approximately one-third of the city or university police departments representing populations of 100,000 or more people reported zero hate crime incidents to the FBI. Some agencies, including all 21 police departments in Florida representing a population of 100,000 or more, either did not participate in the national Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) hate crime statistics program or provided a “blank submission” during at least one quarterly submission period. A blank submission occurs when a participating agency fails to submit any data, even data indicating that zero hate crime incidents occurred (zero data), to the FBI during a specific period. Other police departments, including Spokane, Washington, and St. Louis, Missouri, also reported blank submissions in 2016. Even for agencies representing large populations that did submit hate crime incidents to the FBI, the majority reported fewer incidents, when adjusted for population, compared to the national average. Those agencies include Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Dallas, and many others. 

These observations cast doubt over the quality and accuracy of our national hate crime data. In light of these concerns, we must advocate improved statistics at the state, local, and federal level. At the same time, we must continue to monitor and analyze the official data that are available, as they remain the principal resource for understanding the nature and extent of hate crime in American communities. The rest of this post will consider hate crime data for the first half of 2018 from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the subject of a recent report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. A quick consideration of 2017 hate crime data from state and local agencies will conclude the post. 

According to the Center’s recent report, Los Angeles saw a 6.8 percent decline in reported hate crime incidents in the first half of 2018 over the same period last year. Despite this overall decrease, violent hate crimes increased 8.3 percent. Notably, violent crime in general decreased 2.8 percent during this period. Furthermore, the LAPD recorded five anti-Arab hate crime incidents, compared to zero incidents in the first half of 2017. Based on this partial 2018 data from Los Angeles and 11 other major American cities and counties with available data, the Center is forecasting a decline in reported hate crime incidents nationwide for the first half of 2018.

Based on similar data from last year, however, the Center is predicting a nationwide increase of reported hate crime incidents in 2017. The FBI will release 2017 hate crime data submitted from participating agencies in the annual report, Hate Crime Statistics, which we can expect in the final months of 2018. In addition to hate crime data from local police departments, some state agencies have already published 2017 hate crime statistics. In the 17 states that have published 2017 hate crime data, hate crime increased nearly 20 percent. As a point of comparison, the most significant nationwide increase ever reported in federal hate crime statistics occurred in 2001, when, as a result of post-9/11 backlash, reported hate crime incidents surged approximately 21 percent.

Available data from major jurisdictions also suggest an escalation of hate crime in 2017. In the District of Columbia, the Metropolitan Police Department recorded a 67 percent increase, from 107 reported incidents in 2016, to 179 last year. While the state of New York has yet to publish 2017 statistics, the New York Police Department recorded 325 hate crime incidents last year, up from 127 in 2016. A total of 18 anti-Arab hate crime incidents contributed to that 156 percent increase. According to FBI statistics, a single anti-Arab hate crime incident was reported statewide in 2016. That incident occurred in the city of Rochester.

Returning to state-level statistics, 34 anti-Arab hate crime incidents were reported in the five states to publish anti-Arab hate crime data in 2017 statistics so far. If we include the 18 incidents reported in New York City last year, the total exceeds the 51 anti-Arab hate crime incidents recorded in 2016 FBI statistics. AAI Foundation research demonstrates that state-level statistics often exceed the totals recorded in federal data. However, the preliminary data from major cities considered in the Center’s report, in addition to state-level statistics discussed above, suggest the FBI’s 2017 hate crime statistics will likely report a third consecutive annual increase of hate crime incidents nationwide. The data also suggest that federal statistics will report an increase of anti-Arab hate crime incidents. Readers can expect the second edition of our resource guide, Rating the Response, shortly after the publication of the FBI’s annual hate crime statistics this coming November.

Until then, we will continue to advocate an improved response to hate crime in American communities, monitor available hate crime data, and publish content based on our research findings on a regular basis.