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Hate crimes up for third year in a row: FBI

Hate crimes up for third year in a row: FBI

Hate crimes increased in the U.S. for the third year in a row in 2017, rising 17 percent from the previous year, according to an FBI report released Tuesday.  

Law enforcement officials reported 7,175 hate crime incidents last year, up from 6,121 in 2016, with more incidents motivated by racial, ethnic or religious bias than in previous years. 

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Last year saw the largest single-year increase in hate crimes since 2001, according to the FBI, when a terrorist attack on U.S. soil resulted in a significant spike in anti-Muslim crimes.

Racial and ethnic bias continued to be the largest motivators for hate crimes in the U.S., driving 59.5 percent of the total hate crimes reported. More than 2,000 anti-black hate crimes were reported in 2017, nearly half of all crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred. 

There was also a nearly 23 percent increase in religion-based hate crimes in 2017, with a 37 percent increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes, according to the FBI.

Attacks against Jewish people accounted for 58.1 percent of crimes motivated by anti-religious bias last year, a 4-percent increase from 2016, while anti-Muslim crimes were down.

Anti-Muslim offenses accounted for 24.8 percent of anti-religious hate crimes in 2016 compared with 18.7 percent in 2017. Anti-Islamic crimes continue to remain at historic levels, and anti-Arab hate crimes doubled to 102 incidents, Voice of America noted

"This report is a call to action — and we will heed that call," acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a statement on Tuesday.

"I am particularly troubled by the increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes — which were already the most common religious hate crimes in the United States — that is well documented in this report," Whitaker said. "The American people can be assured that this Department has already taken significant and aggressive actions against these crimes and that we will vigorously and effectively defend their rights."

The report comes out a few weeks after a mass shooter in Pittsburgh committed the deadliest attack against Jews in U.S. history, killing 11 congregants at a synagogue in the city's Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

“Two weeks ago, we witnessed the most deadly anti-Semitic hate crime in American history," Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement Tuesday. "Today, we have another FBI study showing a big jump in hate crimes against Americans because of their race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation."

While more law enforcement agencies began reporting hate crimes in 2017, Greenblatt noted that at least 92 cities with large populations still do not report hate crime data or said they had zero incidents in 2017.

"You can’t move what you can’t measure," he said. 

A recent spate of alleged hate crimes also included a string of attempted mail bombings against high-profile Democrats across the country, and multiple instances of anti-Semitic and racist graffiti.

Civil rights advocates have been raising concerns about the historic rise in white nationalism across the country.