National hate crime statistics are flawed and incomplete. That’s because bias and motivations for crimes aren’t always clear, such crimes can be underreported by both victims and police, and even when the available data are compiled by the FBI, they still don’t give a fully realized picture of where and how criminal hate is expressed in America.
That being said, the data can still give us a general idea of sea changes and shifts in our social animus. For instance, newly released FBI hate crime statistics for 2016 reveal some interesting trends: Reports of hate crimes against Muslims are up, as are hate crimes targeting white people. In fact, in general, hate crimes saw a rise over the year.
Anti-Muslim crime saw the biggest rise
Of the 6,121 hate crimes reported to the FBI in in 2016, anti-Islamic (anti-Muslim) crimes accounted for 307. This was a more than 19 percent rise from the previous year. There were more reports of hate crimes against Jews than were reported against any other religious group. In 2016, 684 anti-Jewish incidents were reported — more than the rest of the religiously motivated hate crimes combined.
In addition to the above categories, the 2016 FBI report also included statistics for anti-Mormon (7), anti-Jehovah’s Witness (2), anti-Eastern Orthodox (28), anti-other Christian (36), anti-Buddhist (1), anti-Hindu (10) and anti-Sikh (7) crimes.
Anti-white crime saw the second-biggest rise
In 2016, anti-white hate crimes rose 17 percent, to a reported 720 incidents, accounting for about 20 percent of all racially motivated hate crimes. Anti-black crime is overwhelmingly the most commonly reported type of racially motivated crime, with 1,739 reported incidents — roughly half of the 3,489 racially motivated incidents in 2016.
Accounting for the number of incidents and national population demographics, that means black people are far more likely to be victims of hate crimes than white people.
In addition to the above categories, the 2016 FBI report also included statistics for anti-Arab (51) anti-Hispanic or Latino (344) and anti-other race/ethnicity/ancestry (223) crimes.
A rise overall
The 6,121 hate crime incidents reported in 2016 mark an uptick in national hate crime numbers. That’s an increase of more than 4 percent from 2015.
Again, there are several flaws in the data — including varying numbers of police departments reporting incidents every year. For more information on the context and limits of hate crime statistics, click here.