Monday, November 14, 2016
Attacks on Muslim Americans Fuel Increase in Hate Crime, F.B.I. Says
WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. reported Monday that attacks against American Muslims rose last year, driving an overall increase in hate crime against all groups.
The data, which is the most comprehensive look at hate crime nationwide, expanded on previous findings by researchers and outside monitors, who have noted an alarming rise in some types of crimes tied to the vitriol of this year’s presidential campaign and the aftermath of terrorist attacks at home and abroad since 2015.
That trend appears to have spiked in just the last week, with civil rights groups and news organizations reporting dozens of verbal or physical assaults on minorities and others that appear to have been fueled by divisions over the election.
In its report on Monday, the F.B.I. cataloged a total of 5,818 hate crimes in 2015 — a rise of about 6 percent over the previous year — including assaults, bombings, threats, and property destruction against minorities, women, gays and others.
Attacks against Muslim Americans saw the biggest surge. There were 257 reports of assaults, attacks on mosques and other hate crimes against Muslims last year, a jump of about 67 percent over 2014. It was the highest total since 2001, when more than 480 attacks occurred in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Attacks against transgender people also sharply increased.
Blacks were the most frequent victims of hate crimes based on race, while Jews were the most frequent victims based on religion, according to the F.B.I. data. But the increases in attacks on these groups were smaller than the rise in attacks against Muslims and transgender people.
Over all, 59 percent of the hate crimes that the F.B.I. recorded were based on the victims’ race, ethnicity or ancestry. Religious bias accounted for about 20 percent of all attacks, and about 18 percent of attacks were based on sexual orientation.
Law enforcement officials acknowledge that the statistics give an incomplete picture because many local agencies still have a spotty record of reporting hate crimes, 26 years after Congress directed the Justice Department to begin collecting the data.
“We need to do a better job of tracking and reporting hate crime to fully understand what is happening in our communities and how to stop it,” James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, said Monday. The F.B.I. regards the prosecution of hate crimes under federal jurisdiction as the top priority of its civil rights branch.
Since the election, hate crime monitors like the Southern Poverty Law Center have reported a rash of verbal or physical abuse targeting minorities and others at schools, mosques and elsewhere.
Some supporters of President-elect Donald J. Trump, however, say they too have been victimized.