Hate crimes rose by 17% last year in the United States, according to FBI data released today. It is the third consecutive year to see a rise in these types of crimes.
Law enforcement across the country reported a total of 7,175 hate crimes occurred in 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016.
A number of agencies still don’t report hate crimes, meaning the numbers are even higher than is known. The uptick in the percentage is due in part to more of them beginning to report such acts, which can include both violence against a person and property damage. In 2017, over 4,000 of the more than 7,000 hate crimes were against a person, as opposed to against property.
Yet overall violent crime dropped slightly last year, after increasing in both 2015 and 2016.
Meanwhile, last year marks the largest single-year increase since 2001, in which the terrorist attack on 9-11 resulted in a jump in anti-Muslim crimes. The FBI is encouraging more law enforcement agencies to begin reporting hate crime numbers so the agency has a better understanding of the problem.
African-Americans were the most targeted group in 2017, with 2,013 of hate crimes committed against them; followed by LGBTQ people, with 1,130 occurrences of violence against the community. Additionally, 938 acts targeted Jewish Americans.
Acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker said the figures will be an impetus to action.
“The Department of Justice’s top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes. They are also despicable violations of our core values as Americans,” Whitaker said.
“I am particularly troubled by the increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes—which were already the most common religious hate crimes in the United States—that is well documented in this report,” Whitaker added. “The American people can be assured that this Department has already taken significant and aggressive actions against these crimes and that we will vigorously and effectively defend their rights.”
The new numbers come just weeks after a mass shooter at a synagogue in Pittsburgh killed 11 people, making it the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in U.S. history.