Hate crimes are defined as crimes motivated based on biases of race, gender, gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. The most recent stats from the FBI are sobering: There were 7,175 incidents reported in 2017. And with recent national rhetoric, there is a concern that these crimes will only increase.
Hate crimes can be committed against any group of people, and perpetrators are not exclusively straight, white, cisgender men, although Caucasian people tend to be common offenders. Here, we’ll explore the different hate crimes, who commits them, their victims, and how this type of crime manifests itself in the U.S.
Victims of Hate Crimes
Racial bias may motivate the most hate crimes, as out of over 7,000 incidents, over 5,000 were motivated by biases against race, which included over 5,000 victims.
According to our analysis, African Americans most frequently targeted white people, as almost 30% of the crimes committed by this population were considered anti-white crimes. The next victim group most frequently targeted was gay people (18.7%), and the third was a tie between anti-lesbian and anti-Hispanic hate crimes.
White perpetrators acted on anti-black biases most frequently (38%), followed by anti-gay (8.2%) and anti-Hispanic (7.9%). Hispanic perpetrators also targeted black people most often (32.3%), followed by anti-gay crimes (21.3%) and a tie between anti-white and anti-Sikh crimes (6.5%).
Asian American perpetrators committed hate crimes equally between gay and black people (19.1%). However, this was followed by crimes against Jewish people (14.3%) and a tie between Asians and other races (7.1%).
According to the FBI, overall, the most hate crimes involved black people (48.6%), while 17.1% of hate crimes were anti-white in origin. Jewish people were the most frequent religious-based target (around 58% of total victims were targeted due to the offender’s anti-Jewish bias), while 18.6% of religious hate crimes were aimed at Muslims.
Breaking Down Bias
While African Americans targeted people based on anti-white, anti-gay, and anti-lesbian sentiment, there are further biases that should be explored, including anti-Sikh and anti-transgender (3.6%), biases against other races (3.5%), and anti-Asian (2.3%).
Notably, 6% of hate crimes committed by white people were due to anti-white bias. Other top targets were people who identified as lesbians (5.6%), Jewish people (5%), American Indian or Alaska Natives (4.8%), and other races (4.3%).
For Hispanic perpetrators, their bias was directed toward people identifying as lesbian (6.1%), Jewish (3.6%), Hispanic, and Catholic (2.9% each).
Asian Americans, who equally committed hate crimes against black and gay individuals (19.1%), also had anti-white, anti-Arab (4.8% each), and anti-transgender biases (2.4%).
Types of Hate Crimes, by Race/Ethnicity
Every group we examined was more likely to commit hate crimes based on anti-ethnicity or anti-race sentiment, except for Asian Americans. White people, in particular, committed the most hate crimes overall, with 1,816 directed at victims due to racial bias.
African Amerian offenders were likely to target people for the same reason, but were also likely to have anti-sexual preference bias. Additionally, Hispanic perpetrators committed more than twice as many race-motivated crimes compared to those motivated by sexual orientation.
Hate Crimes on the Upswing
While reporting is varied across the board (and not all incidents always find their way to the FBI), a quick glance shows that hate crimes are on the rise and have been for a while. In 2016, for example, there were 6,121 incidents (compared to over 7,000 in 2017). In 2015, there were 5,850, and in 2014, there were 5,479. There is hope that the next data release may bring some relief from this ongoing trend, although this is unlikely given the prominence of hate crimes in the ongoing news cycle.
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