In its annual crime report, the FBI announced that while violent crime decreased in 2022, hate crimes targeting Black, LGBTQ+, and Jewish Americans are on the rise.
According to the federal agency’s 2022 Crime in the Nation Statistics findings, among hate crimes committed last year, anti-Black, anti-Jewish, and crimes against gay men were among the “top bias types” within bias categories like race, religion, or sexual orientation.
Overall, reported hate crimes in 2022 increased by 7%, making for the highest total on record for the second consecutive year.
Despite the rise in hate crimes, the annual statistical report also found that violent crimes, including murder, are declining. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter decreased by 6.1% compared to 2021, aggravated assault decreased by 1.1%, and rape crimes decreased by 5.4%.
“The FBI Crime in the Nation statistics are incredibly sad, yet not surprising,” said Black LGBTQ+ civil rights advocate Preston Mitchum, CEO of PDM Consulting LLC.
“As a Black queer man from the Midwest, it is deeply frustrating to see the persistence of these biases among historically oppressed communities, particularly, and as highlighted here, against Black people and queer men,” Mitchum told theGrio.
“It’s important to recognize that individuals can face intersecting forms of discrimination and hate, which can make their experiences even more complex and challenging,” he continued.
“These statistics underscore the urgency of addressing these issues comprehensively and with a focus on intersectional policy responses at local, state, and federal levels.”
Jamila “Jami” Hodge, executive director of Equal Justice USA, a national organization dedicated to intersectionally building community safety, told theGrio that biased attitudes about crime and race influence increases in hate crimes.
Hodge said the uptick in anti-Black hate crimes, for example, can be linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and attitudes about crime in urban communities amid increases in robberies and domestic violence incidents due to lockdowns.
She said “drivers” of poverty and violence were exacerbated and, as a result, citizens and politicians began calling for “tougher on crime policies.” The former federal prosecutor also noted an influx of guns purchased by citizens during the pandemic.
Since then, the notion that crime is at an all-time high emerged, and “people took that narrative and just ran with it,” said Hodge.
That led to, “We need to go back to tougher on crime policies,” Hodge told theGrio.
She added, “We’ve been hearing some rhetoric about needing to increase the use of the death penalty in some of the political arenas.” Former President Donald Trump is among those issuing such a call, urging capital punishment for drug dealers, according to published reports.
Maya Wiley, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, pointed to the spread of white supremacy as a breeding ground for hate and bias.
“The civil rights community has long worked across religious, racial, and cultural communities to challenge the insidiousness of white supremacy because we know that the fight for civil rights and justice can only be won in coalition,” Wiley said in a public statement.
“If we do not act now to combat the steady rise in hate, we are bound to repeat the worst of this country’s history.”
Hodge similarly told theGrio it’s important to understand the historical context of race and the U.S. criminal system in order to truly address the rise of hate crimes.
“When you don’t understand that historical context for how much of our system has targeted [Black people] and how it explains the racial disparities that we see in our system, then you might be surprised by the uptick in hate crimes and the rhetoric that drives it,” she said.
“To me, they’re deeply related. Who we blame crime on, who we associate with things like violence and dangerousness is deeply rooted in our history.”
To better understand the toll and scope of hate crimes in the U.S., Wiley called for mandatory hate crimes data reporting, as her organization has long pushed for due to the significant underreporting of hate crimes by law enforcement agencies.
“Until our leaders enact legislation, federal funds should be conditioned on credible hate crime reporting,” she said. “We need a full picture of hate and bias in vulnerable communities so we can dismantle the very real threats of hate.”
Despite the increase in racial, religious, and LGBTQ+ hate crime incidents, Hodge said President Joe Biden’s administration “gets some credit” for the decrease in murders and aggravated assaults.
“We saw an unprecedented investment at the federal government level into community violence intervention,” she told theGrio.
In his budget for fiscal year 2023, Biden requested $500 million toward expanding community violence interventions.
Hodge said, “The federal government plays a role not just in enforcing the collection of data, which helps to inform solutions, but also funding solutions that we can see are working.”
Hodge, whose organization works on the state and local level to reduce crime, pointed to Newark, New Jersey, as a case study for lowering the rate of violent crimes. She said the city’s crime rate is at a 60-year low, which happened when “almost across the entire country, there was an uptick in gun violence.”
“Newark was an aberration,” she said of the city, whose mayor, Ras Baraka, declared violent crime a public health issue.
But regarding the steady increase of hate crimes, Hodge said elected officials must be more responsible and stop driving rhetoric that could harm vulnerable communities.
“Rhetoric, particularly rhetoric that comes from folks who are in positions of influence or who have the microphone through mainstream media, plants seeds,” she told theGrio. “Social media can be in these echo chambers, where those seeds can be reinforced, watered, and fertilized.
“You could see that this was coming because this rhetoric became deeply ingrained, and the beliefs became deeply ingrained,” she added. “So there’s definitely a direct connection between the rhetoric and the hate crimes that we’re seeing.”
In a public statement about the FBI crime report, Biden said the data is a “reminder that hate never goes away, it only hides. Any hate crime is a stain on the soul of America.”
“There’s more to do when it comes to ending hate-fueled violence. That means coming together and speaking out against hate and bigotry in all its forms,” said Biden. “All Americans deserve to live their lives with dignity, respect, and safety.”
Gerren Keith Gaynor is a White House Correspondent and the Managing Editor of Politics at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.
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