Law & the Courts

Overall Hate Crimes Decreased in 2018 While Violence Ticked Up, According to New FBI Report

The J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington, D.C. (Jim Bourg/REUTERS)

Hate crimes reported to the FBI decreased slightly last year from their record high in 2017, according to the FBI’s annual hate crime data report released Tuesday.

The FBI received 7,120 reports of crimes motivated by bias or prejudice in 2018, 55 incidents less than were reported the previous year. Crimes against property decreased in 2018 while personal physical attacks, which made up 61 percent of total hate crimes, increased.

A hate crime as defined by the FBI is a “criminal offense against a person or property, motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

Violent hate crimes increased by nearly two-dozen from the 1,183 violent incidents recorded in 2017 to 1,204 incidents in 2018. The FBI defines violent crime as murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

Hate crimes resulting in death also ticked up to 24 people, including the 11 victims who perished in the Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting in October of last year, the deadliest attack ever on the Jewish community in this country.

Hate crimes involving religion declined last year while incidents motivated by race and sexual orientation or gender identity escalated.

Reports of crimes motivated by the victim’s religion fell to 1,617 from 1,749.

Racially-motivated crimes affected 5,155 victims last year, an increase from the 5,060 people who were victims of such crimes in 2017. Hate crimes against Hispanics in particular spiked, up to 671 victims from 552 victims in 2017.

Meanwhile, perpetrators motivated by sexual orientation committed crimes against 1,445 victims last year, compared to only 1,338 victims the previous year.

A total of 16,039 law enforcement agencies submitted the data used in the report to the FBI. However, some cities and states did not collect the data on hate crimes or report it to the agency, and many victims of hate crimes never report it to law enforcement.

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