Home Report: Hate crimes at highest level in a decade; fueled by race, religion, sex
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Report: Hate crimes at highest level in a decade; fueled by race, religion, sex

Crystal Graham
hate speech
(© Feng Yu – stock.adobe.com)

The number of hate crimes reported last year were up significantly from previous years with the majority of incidents involving race, religion and sexual orientation, according to the 2022 Crime in the Nation report recently released by the FBI.

The Justice Department hosted a virtual forum Wednesday to highlight the United Against Hate initiative.

Last September, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced that all U.S. Attorneys’ Offices would work to build trust and increase the reporting of hate crimes through local forums. More than 200 programs were held over the past year.

Incident reports were reported in 2022 by 14,631 agencies. The reports involved 11,634 criminal incidents with 13,337 related offenses.

”As I see in my daily threat briefings, there has been a significant increase in the volume and frequency of threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities across our country,” said Garland in his remarks at the virtual forum. “I recognize the fear, frustration, and isolation that many of you have felt over the past few weeks, and that you continue to feel as you join us here today.”

On Tuesday, Garland said, a person was arrested and charged for posting threats to kill or injure Jews at Cornell University.

“As this arrest shows, we are focusing our efforts on confronting and disrupting illegal threats wherever they arise,” Garland said. “The Justice Department has no tolerance for violence or unlawful threats of violence fueled by antisemitism or Islamophobia. I want to reiterate a core principle of this Justice Department: no person and no community in this country should have to live in fear of hate-fueled violence. You are not alone. And the Justice Department is committed to building on our partnerships with all of you to combat illegal acts of hate.

“For our democracy to function, we must all be protected in our right to live free from hate-fueled violence and the threat of violence. We must all be protected in our right to hold different opinions, and to voice those opinions peacefully. And we must all be united against hate.”

Recent statistics show that hate crimes remain at the highest levels in more than a decade.

Data shows that almost 60 percent of hate crimes targeted victims based on their race, ethnicity or ancestry, with Black people being among those most frequently targeted, said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke.

The data also show that antisemitic hate crimes rose 25 percent from last year, with those crimes accounting for over half of all reported religion-based hate crimes.

Hate crimes against Muslim Americans – or those perceived to be Muslim – constituted a significant portion of the remainder of religion-based hate crimes.

Hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity also rose 16 percent last year.

“The sad reality is that far too many people in this country remain vulnerable to bias-motivated violence simply because of who they are, what they look like, where they worship, where they come from or who they love,” said Clarke.

Hate crime cases

Since January 2021, the civil rights division has charged more than 80 defendants in more than 100 cases for committing hate crimes including more than 85 convictions, Clarke said.

“Our prosecutions, sadly, make clear that hate crimes are not from a bygone era but a crisis that continues to tear at the fabric of our nation,” said Clarke.

  • Obtained a guilty verdict against the perpetrator who killed 11 people and critically wounded seven others at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.
  • Secured the conviction of the man who killed 23 people and wounded 22 more at the Cielo Vista Walmart in El Paso, Texas, for no reason other than their Hispanic identity and national origin.

This is what just one month of work to combat hate across America looks like today:

  • In Illinois, investigating as a potential hate crime the horrific and fatal stabbing of six-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume and serious injuries suffered by his mother, Hanaan Shahin, in Illinois.
  • In South Carolina, a man pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in the murder of a Black transgender woman, Dime Doe.
  • In Ohio, a man pleaded guilty to federal charges after throwing two Molotov cocktails at a church, hoping to burn it to the ground because of its plans to host drag show events and the church’s support for the LGBTQI+ community.
  • In Florida, a man was sentenced for his racially-motivated attack and attempt to use his pickup truck to strike a group of Black men who were surveying land near the location of the 1923 Rosewood Massacre site.
  • In Indiana, a man was indicted for allegedly leaving voicemails threatening to kill Jewish people at Anti-Defamation League offices in New York, Texas, Colorado and Nevada.

“Through their violence, the perpetrators of these crimes not only target victims but also seek to instill fear in the communities they target,” said Clarke. “But our prosecutions are intended to send a louder and more powerful message: that hate crimes will not be tolerated in our democracy today; that perpetrators of hate crimes will be punished and held fully accountable; and that the communities targeted by these crimes are valued and will be safeguarded by the federal government.

“Make no mistake, hate-fueled violence is a stain on our nation’s history.”

For more information on hate crimes, click here.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.