Hate Crimes Up In 2016, FBI Statistics Show

The total number of hate crimes in 2016 was 6,121, compared with 5,850 in 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation data revealed on November 13.

A report from the federal agency indicated that this number represents an increase of 4.6 percent, compared to 2015, when 5,850 crimes motivated by prejudices related to race, religion, sexuality, national origin or disability were reported, among others.

There were 7,509 victims of single-bias hate crime incidents, according to the reported numbers for 2016.

Crimes against Muslims accounted for about 25 percent of religious-based hate crimes. The Southern Poverty Law Center also notes that there was a surge in incidents in the last three months of 2016.

The report - which is based on 2016 data voluntarily submitted by about 15,000 law agencies - shows a five percent increase in hate crimes from 2015 and a 10 percent increase from 2014, Reuters reports.

Former FBI director James Comey spoke about the bureau's tracking of hate crimes before his dismissal in 2017. The remaining incidents were perpetrated at a variety of other locations, including schools and houses of worship, commercial and government buildings, restaurants and nightclubs, parking lots and garages, playgrounds and parks, and even medical facilities.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the task force he appointed on crime reduction is exploring ways to revise training for police and prosecutors, and to improve data collection on hate crimes.

The Anti-Defamation League, for example, noted that almost 90 cities with populations of more than 100,000 either reported zero hate crimes or did not report data for 2016. Hate crimes due to sexual orientation went down slightly.

Of the crimes that were motivated by a victim's religion, more than half were against Jewish people and a fourth were against Muslims, according to the report.

In an interview with KTVU on Monday, Anti-Defamation League regional director Seth Brysk said that his organization noticed a "sharp increase" of hate during the presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump kicked off previous year.

"No person should have to fear being violently attacked because of who they are, what they believe, of how they worship", said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a statement after the report was published on November 13, The Washington Post reports.

"There's a unsafe disconnect between the rising problem of hate crimes and the lack of credible data being reported", said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt. But incidents motivated by anti-Muslim bias saw the greatest increase out of religion-motivated crimes.

Anti-Catholic crimes also increased by 9 incidents.

Vanessa Coleman

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