Posted by Omar Baddar on November 12, 2019 at 9:20 AM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 12, 2019

CONTACT: Omar Baddar

obaddar@aaiusa.org | (202) 429-9210

2018 Hate Crime Data Show Deadliest Year on Record, Most Violent Since 9/11-Backlash.

AAI calls on federal, state, and local officials to improve the response to hate crime.

WASHINGTON, DC – The Arab American Institute (AAI) today called for a better response to hate crime after the FBI’s 2018 hate crime data showed the deadliest year on record and the most violent since 2001, when a surge of incidents was reported in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As with the 2016 and 2017 murders of Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer, high-profile hate crimes went unreported in the 2018 data. Congress must exercise its oversight and legislative authorities to address these shortcomings.

According to the FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics report, which is based on data collected from state, tribal, local, and now federal law enforcement agencies, there were 7,120 hate crime incidents reported in 2018, marking a slight decline from the 7,175 incidents reported in 2017 and the second-highest annual total in the last decade. Despite the minor decrease in reported incidents, law enforcement agencies reported 24 hate crime homicides, the most on record, and 3,099 violent hate crime offenses, the highest number since 2001, when 3,567 violent offenses were reported. In the context of the Hate Crime Statistics report, AAI defines violent offenses as homicide, rape, assault, and robbery. 

Down from 102 incidents in 2017, law enforcement agencies reported 82 Anti-Arab hate crime incidents in 2018, marking the second-highest total since the FBI added an Anti-Arab category in 2015. Although a decrease was also recorded for Anti-Muslim hate crime, the 188 incidents reported in 2018 marked the fifth-highest total on record.

In 2018, law enforcement agencies reported:

  • A record number of violent Anti-Jewish hate crime offenses. The same year that an armed white supremacist fueled with hatred for Jews and immigrants murdered eleven worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., 105 violent Anti-Jewish hate crime offenses were reported, up from 73 in 2017. The uptick came despite a reduction of reported incidents (from 938 to 835, which is the third-highest this decade).  

  • An 11 percent increase in hate crimes targeting the LGBTQ community. The 1,347 hate crime incidents reported in 2018 was the second-highest number of Anti-LGBTQ hate crimes on record. This included a record number of hate crimes based on gender identity.

  • The third consecutive reported increase of Anti-Hispanic or Latino hate crime incidents. The 485 reported incidents (14 percent increase) involved 350 violent offenses, tied for the fourth-highest number of violent Anti-Hispanic or Latino hate crime offenses on record, and the highest in over a decade.

  • The greatest number of violent Anti-Black or African American hate crime offenses reported since 2001. The 829 violent hate crime offenses accounted for more than 25 percent of violent hate crime offenses reported in the 2018 data. At 1,943 reported incidents, Anti-Black or African American hate crime also accounted for a plurality of incidents and a majority of incidents motivated by race.

  • A record number of hate crime incidents motivated by disability. The 159 hate crime incidents (37 percent increase) reported in 2018 almost tripled the recorded average between 1997, when the FBI started tracking disability-based crimes, and 2017.

  • At 194 incidents, the second-highest number of Anti-American Indian or Alaska Native hate crime incidents on record, behind only 2017, and the third consecutive increase of Anti-Asian hate crime incidents, at 148 incidents.

  • Three-times as many Anti-Sikh hate crime incidents, from 20 reported incidents in 2017 to 60 reported last year.

The FBI data only tell part of the story, however, and as we have seen in recent years, hate crimes are slipping through the cracks. In 2018, at least eighty-five police departments serving populations of more than 100,000 people either did not report hate crimes or provided the FBI with no data whatsoever, and no hate crimes were reported in Alabama or Wyoming. The FBI data also do not include the fatal mass shooting at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Fla., on Nov. 2, 2018, which local authorities described as a premeditated misogynist attack.

After discovering that the 2016 and 2017 murders of Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer went unreported in FBI data, AAI has continued to search for irregularities in hate crime statistics. In October, AAI sent a letter warning state and federal officials about two major cases that local authorities did not report as hate crimes: the fatal stabbing of a gay college student named Blaze Bernstein in Orange County, Calif., on Jan. 2, 2018; and the fatal shooting of two African Americans named Vickie Lee Jones and Maurice E. Stallard at a grocery store in Jeffersontown, Ky., on Oct. 24, 2018. Both cases were prosecuted as hate crimes but not recorded in the official hate crime statistics of the respective states. For the first time ever, the FBI data includes incidents reported from federal law enforcement agencies, and it seems like FBI field offices have reported the killings of Bernstein, Jones, and Stallard. Although AAI welcomes the addition of federal law enforcement agencies to the Hate Crime Statistics report, we have concerns about implementation. With respect to the cases highlighted in this paragraph, state and local officials informed AAI that they were not aware that federal agencies would be reporting the incidents in the FBI data.

AAI Executive Director Maya Berry made the following statement regarding the FBI’s 2018 hate crime data:

“The FBI’s 2018 hate crime data confirm what we already know: communities continue to face hate in America and the violence is getting worse. According to the FBI, 2018 was the deadliest year on record and the most violent since the post-9/11 backlash targeting Arab Americans, American Muslims, and those perceived to be Arab or Muslim. The data also expose a disturbing trend in our politics—and the impact it is having on people. The Trump Administration has advanced policies, and the president has trafficked in rhetoric, targeting the same communities that have also experienced a surge of hate violence.

The unrelenting scourge of hate crime requires an improved, more coordinated response from federal, state and local officials. We also need Congress to exercise its oversight and legislative authorities to address the systemic issues that undermine hate crime reporting and data collection in this country, beginning with the passage of the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer NO HATE Act.”

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Founded in 1985, the Arab American Institute (AAI) is a nonprofit organization committed to the civic and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent. AAI provides policy, research and public affairs services to support a broad range of community activities. Our report, Underreported, Under Threat: Hate Crime in the United States and the Targeting of Arab Americans 1991-2016, identifies target areas for improvement and provides state-based recommendations. Complete with ratings for each state based on its overall response, this resource guide can be used to empower readers throughout the United States to advocate for a better response to hate crime in their communities.