Posted by Ali Albassam on November 18, 2016 in Blog

Attorney General Loretta Lynch released a video statement Friday (Nov. 18) on the FBI’s 2015 hate crime report and media reports of increased hate incidents and harassment across the country. Calling on individuals to report hate incidents to local law enforcement and the Justice Department, Lynch noted that despite tremendous progress, there still remains a lot of work to be done. She noted that the work in protecting all Americans from violence is not just about enforcing the law, but it is about “staying true to our highest ideals and most cherished principles."

The FBI’s hate crime report for 2015, which was released Monday (Nov. 14), includes for the first time, hate crimes targeted at Arabs, Sikhs, and Hindus. 

In total, there was a 6.8% increase in reported hate crimes from 2014 to 2015 due in part to the 67% surge in anti-Muslim hate crimes – a significant increase, and one that appears to correlate with the rise in inflammatory rhetoric in public discourse. 

Perhaps most troubling, however, is that hate crime data is historically underreported – something that the FBI acknowledges. “We need to do a better job of tracking and reporting hate crimes to fully understand what is happening in our communities and how to stop it,” said FBI Director James Comey.

One of the reasons for such underreporting is because law enforcement agencies are not required to report hate crimes to the FBI. This includes more than 3,000 state and local law enforcement agencies across the U.S. 

Additionally, victims of hate crimes often fail to report the incident to law enforcement. As a result, nearly two-thirds of hate crimes are unaccounted for.

With the increase in inflammatory rhetoric during a divisive campaign season, many communities have expressed concern with this growing trend. 

Those fears appear to be well-founded. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there have been more than 400 incidents of hateful harassment and intimidation since Election Day alone. 

As this trend continues, it is imperative that community members report to law enforcement when they are the target of a hate crime. Furthermore, the FBI must continue to coordinate with agencies nationwide to ensure that forthcoming reports reflect the reality of the increasing number of Americans victimized by hate.