MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Hate Crimes in 2016: New FBI Numbers Show Little Change

The data should help dispel fears of a Trump-induced surge in American hate crimes.

Pacific Press/Sipa USA/NewscomPacific Press/Sipa USA/NewscomAfter widespread worry over a supposed spike in election-adjacent hate crimes last year, many of the alleged incidents turned out to be hoaxes or misunderstandings. Now new data from the FBI further undermines the idea that 2016 saw a sort of crime wave spurred by prejudice.

There were 271 more incidents deemed hate crimes in 2016 than the previous year, according to the latest Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) data. There were also 257 more law enforcement agencies reporting last year, so that increase could largely or even entirely be a matter of getting more complete statistics. The higher numbers mostly represent small increases in incidents classified as anti-Hispanic, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, or anti-white.

The most common motive animating hate crimes in 2016—and throughout the past decade—was anti-black bias. That accounted for 2,114 incidents last year. Another 888 incidents were deemed to be based on anti-white bias, 448 incidents on anti-Hispanic bias, and 381 incidents on anti-Islamic bias.

Crimes motivated by animosity toward Jewish people and gay men were also high in the 2016 crime data (again, a longstanding trend). About 830 incidents were categorized as anti-Jewish hate crimes and 765 as incidents motivated by bias against gay men.

The most common type of crime reported was vandalism or property destruction (31 percent), followed by intimidation (26 percent) and simple assault (24 percent). Aggravated assault accounted for 11 percent of all incidents, and rape and murder for less than one percent combined. Nine people overall were victims of murder or manslaughter.

"No human trafficking offenses with a bias motivation were reported during 2016," the FBI notes.

A Decade of Hate Crime Reporting

White Americans were the most likely to commit offenses categorized as hate crimes in 2016, accounting for 46.3 percent of all known offenders. This is actually down quite a bit from previous years. In 2015, 48 percent of known offenders were white and in 2011 it was 59 percent. In 2007, nearly 63 percent of all known offenders were white.

Looking at data over the past 10 years provides some other interesting comparisons, too. While the number of hate crime classifications was higher in 2016 than in any of the four preceding years, it was lower than in 2011 and significantly down from 2006-08.

We're also seeing significantly fewer victims (a designation that can encompass individuals, businesses, government entities, religious groups, etc.). Last year, the data show 7,615 individual victims. In comparison, there were 7,713 hate-crime victims in 2011 and 9,652 victims in 2006.

These things are important to keep in mind when trying to analyze this year's data. Obviously, small upticks can turn into big ones over time and are worth keeping an eye on. But looking at a decade's worth of FBI hate crime data shows the folly in making too much of year-over-year fluctuations.

For instance, this year's data show a slight increase in anti-Hispanic incidents, about 69 more overall—a nearly 20 percent rise over 2015. But last year's number (448) is down from 488 in 2012, 681 in 2010, 735 in 2008, and 769 in 2006. That's a 42 percent decrease in anti-Hispanic hate crimes over the past decade.

Anti-Jewish incidents were also at their highest level last year since 2012 (834 in 2016, compared to 696 back then), but down from 921 incidents in 2010 and more than 1,000 per year in 2006–2008.

There's even some good news on anti-black bias: The number of such incidents in 2016 was almost identical to the number the year before, and was down significantly from 2006 (when we saw over 1,000 more anti-black incidents).

Hate crimes categorized as anti-white, meanwhile, were at their highest level last year since 2006 (though still less than half the number of anti-black incidents). Incidents based on anti-Muslim bias were also up last year.

Drilling Down on 2016 Data

That last point presents the most troubling potential trend. There were about 381 anti-Muslim incidents in 2016 and about 300 the year prior. From 2006 through 2014, the number of incidents hovered in the 100s. What could have changed two years ago to present such a substantial spike?

Some will surely blame the beginning of Donald Trump's political ascendancy, and that can't be ruled out. But another explanation is as likely, if not more likely: The FBI changed how it classified certain hate-crime incidents in 2015.

Before this period, crimes based on someone's ethnicity or national origin were simply sorted into Hispanic or non-Hispanic bias incidents, leaving us with a cache of uncountable incidents that could've been based on someone's perceived Middle Eastern or Arabic status. But in 2015, ethnicity was lumped in with the racial-bias category. This means that some of the incidents previously attributed to a general sort of anti–Middle Eastern bias could either be categorized as anti-Arab racial/ethnic bias or anti-Muslim religious bias, possibly spiking the anti-Islamic incident stats.

For crimes classified as being motivated by racial bias, blacks were the biggest target of action or animosity, with a little more than 50 percent of incidents stemming from anti-black bias. Just over a fifth of the incidents were deemed to be based on anti-white bias, with anti-Hispanic/Latino crimes accounting for 10.6 percent of the incidents, anti-Asian bias for 3.1 percent, and anti-Arab bias for 1.3 percent. About 4 percent of incidents classified as the result of bias against multiple races or groups.

Of the 1,538 incidents categorized as religious bias, anti-Semitic offenses dominated (about 54 percent), followed by anti-Islamic incidents (25 percent), anti-Catholic incidents (4 percent), and offenses against multiple religious groups (3 percent).

And of the 1,218 sexual-orientation-based incidents, gay men were the overwhelming target (62.8 percent). Just 11 percent of these crimes classified as anti-lesbian, 2.2 percent as anti-bisexual, and 1.9 percent as anti-heterosexual, with about a fifth classified as anti-LGBTQ more generally.

In addition, 111 incidents last year were classified as anti-transgender crimes and 19 as crimes motivated by bias against gender nonconformity. Twenty-six incidents were categorized as being motivated by anti-woman bias and 10 by bias against men.

Photo Credit: Pacific Press/Sipa USA/Newscom

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I'm pretty sure that reporting no change in the number of hate crimes is a hate crime.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    All it does is prove that we were always a racist nation.

  • jogibew||

    I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

    This is what I do... www.netcash10.com

  • Sevo is my bitch||

    especially if the analysis is flawed

  • colorblindkid||

    9 people. NINE. That is how many people were killed in hate crimes in a year. In a country of 330,000,000. That is fewer than in Islamic terror attacks. Next time you hear Democrats complain about Republicans playing up irrational fears of Muslims, remind them how much they rely on making minorities and LGBT people scared to walk outside for fear of being murdered by a Nazi. Democrats thriving off hate crime hysteria is no different than Republicans thriving off MS-13 hysteria.

    America is not in bad shape. It is not full of evil dangerous bigots ready to form a lynch mob (the last actual lynching was 40 years ago). We are safer than we have ever been, and we are actually far more tolerant and inclusive than basically all of "progressive" Europe.

  • Rhywun||

    Your name is a hate crime.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Your face is a hate crime!!

  • colorblindkid||

    While I am literally colorblind, it is true that being colorblind when it comes to our approach to race is not equivalent to being in the KKK. I'm sure there are many progressive academics who think "not seeing race" is indeed a hate crime.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    While I am literally colorblind,

    At least you're not left-handed.

  • colorblindkid||

    Only when I masturbate, usually into ferns.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Disgusting. Cactus are the best plant for that.

  • sarcasmic||

    Cacti you fucking retard.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Is that how you get 'covfefe'?

  • Episteme||

    Only when I masturbate, usually into ferns.

    That's a pointsetta. Your colorblindness is screwing things up again.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Being colorblind is literally a hate crime.

    You hate color! You racist!

  • colorblindkid||

    Both parties get their base to vote solely by convincing them that America is horrible and getting worse every second, and they are the only ones who can fix it.

  • Eric Bana||

    There are no facts. Only feelings matter.

  • Robespierre Josef Stalin Pot||

    It is not full of evil dangerous bigots...

    It isn't?

  • Bra Ket||

    is this what passes for a zinger where you come from?

  • Mitsima||

    #privileged

  • AndyWingall||

    Europe is teeming with blatant and open displays of hate crimes, going both ways. If I were to step in, I'd be the "ugly American." But anti-Americanism is so rampant inside the US itself, I actually met a lesbian who, though she didn't dispute that europeans were far more violent toward minorities than white Americans, she believed that europeans are more open about it because they aren't hypocrites like those alleged white Americans who are still in their basements plotting out the master attack against non-whites which in some strange way proves that white Americans are still champion racists.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The most common type of crime reported was vandalism or property destruction (31 percent), followed by intimidation (26 percent) and simple assault (24 percent). Aggravated assault accounted for 11 percent of all incidents, and rape and murder for less than one percent combined. Nine people overall were victims of murder or manslaughter.

    This stuff can be so vague. I wonder how many hate crimes occur where the so-called hate was the initial motivator of the crime.

    I mean, we get above-the-fold coverage if a homeless guy aggressively panhandles two men coming out of a gay bar, an altercation ensues and at some point the homeless guy is yelling "Fag" at them while swinging a bottle.

  • colorblindkid||

    Exactly. The notion that the crime should change if somebody happens to yell "faggot" while beating the shit out of me is absurd. Also, I like to argue that a person who indiscriminately goes around killing people is far more dangerous to the general population than somebody who only targets a certain group. Why is killing me for being gay worse than killing my brother because the killer wanted his wallet?

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Motivation?

  • colorblindkid||

    But the guy willing to kill anybody over a wallet is a threat to 100% of the population and a guy who kills a gay guy for being gay is a threat to 5% of the country. I've never been convinced by any argument for why anti-gay motivation for a murder makes it inherently worse.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    I'm not trying to be intentionally obtuse or anything. The outcome is the same. However there are additional civil rights implications in anti-anything violence.

    Is one murder worse than another? I don't think so. Are there additional issues with a crime based explicitly in hatred? I do think so.

  • colorblindkid||

    Agree to disagree. I think it just muddies the waters too much. If there were a serious problem with hate crimes then I might change my mind. When lynchings and gay bashings were relatively common I think hate crime laws may have been necessary. These things simply aren't threats anymore, though. They are so rare they shouldn't require any extra laws and society doesn't need to send "signals" anymore, seeing as these acts are already universally condemned.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Not exactly what I'm saying, but close enough. I don't think there should be hate crime modifiers in existing violent crime statutes, or new laws covering them. I think existing civil rights laws are enough to deal with it should an extreme case arise.

  • Rich||

    Are there additional issues with a crime based explicitly in hatred? I do think so.

    Sure. But are they *legal* issues or, say, psychological issues?

  • sarcasmic||

    I've never been convinced by any argument for why anti-gay motivation for a murder makes it inherently worse.

    I believe the idea is that the amount of time between the first thought of killing and the act itself determines the level of the crime. That could vary from "Oh shit!" *crunch*, to "I hate fags, I'm gonna stalk some for a year before killing a few."

  • Careless||

    All I want to see is a breakdown of confirmed perpetrators who were real vs who were hoaxers

  • AndyWingall||

    So the FBI stats are based on reported "hate crimes" although many turn out to be hoaxes (perhaps most) rather than actual convictions?

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    The fact that hate crimes data show little change is proof that hate crimes are on the rise and growing uncontrollably.

    /prog

  • Crusty Juggler||

    The data should help dispel fears of a Trump-induced surge in American hate crimes.

    This is just what the right-wing, Trump-loving media outlet that Reason has become wants you to believe.

    new data from the FBI further undermines the idea that 2016 saw a sort of crime wave spurred by prejudice.

    The same FBI that got Trump elected? This is a government conspiracy if I have seen it.

  • colorblindkid||

    When you look at the actual numbers, black people make up around 23% of offenders. White people in the mid-40s. White people are less likely to commit hate crimes than black people.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Serious question. Can someone be tried for a hate crime for acting against someone in the same in-group? For instance, could a gay person conceivably be charged with a hate crime committed against another gay person?

  • AndyWingall||

    I'll take it one step further, in NY you have committed a hate crime against a protected member of a minority group even if you weren't targeting them due to their minority status. But since most offenders are either black or hispanic, it doesn't quite matter.

  • vek||

    Yup. The reality is that right now whites are far and away the LEAST racist group in the country, and the least racialist in our views. There have been a ton of incidents picked up by the right wing/alternative press of blacks, Hispanics etc physically attacking people for being white... Never mentioned by the mainstream media, and one wonders if they even get counted in statistics like this, or if they just get lumped in with "random assaults" because you surely can't be racist against white people!

    Not to mention the general racist vitriol that many minorities have and openly express. Then there's the entire establishment which has been waging an overt war against white people, and white men especially. We're all evil by virtue of our birth don't you know!

    After decades of this slowly building up I'm surprised even more white people haven't gone full on white nationalist. I know my opinions on multiculturalism have completely changed over the last few years. I just don't think it is remotely possible anymore, and that's entirely because of the actions of minorities and self hating whites and all the shit they've stirred. It's showed a lot of peoples true colors that i tried to ignore in the past.

    It's not that I have anything against anybody, but I don't think our genetically programmed behavior of preferring people that look similar to us can be overcome, as evidenced by everybody but whites now being more racist than white are on average.

  • AndyWingall||

    I've begun to self segregate, as have even progs and other leftists who are fleeing urban centers with their tails between their legs. The crime surge due to BLM and other non-white militant groups with billionaire commie and MSM support has had devastating affects on decades of integration in this nation.

  • sarcasmic||

    These statistics are crap. They don't count hate crimes against public servants.

    /bloo livs mater

  • Rich||

    Before [2015], crimes based on someone's ethnicity or national origin were simply sorted into Hispanic or non-Hispanic bias incidents

    Well, good thing THAT hate crime has been corrected.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    There is no such thing as a "Hate Crime".

    The very insistence that there is one is a violation of the 4th and 1st Amendments.

    That is all.

  • zeitguest||

    "Citing statistics is violence!"

    Taking bets on how long the line takes to show up for real.

  • XM||

    The takeaway - more whites committed hate crimes under Obama than Trump.

    That's because they hated Obama and had to punish his non white supporters. But when Trump became president, they learned to love them a little more.

    Trump - the unifier.

  • Jakester||

    Baloney

  • Rockabilly||

    Is this hate crime being counted?

    UC Berkley Rioters Beat Bystander in Road Unconcious
    Rioting antifa terrorists beat man in Berkley California with poles

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PYjkq-U_Kc

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I hate the hate crimes because haters suck.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Love the hate criminal, not the hate crime.

  • DajjaI||

    Many of the anti-Jewish hate crimes were a result of the ultra-orthodox moving into upstate New York. They don't educate their children and this perpetuates a cycle of poverty and entitlement. As a result the local populations are resentful, and sometimes act out in hateful ways.

    Also, many anti-Jewish hate crimes are by Jews. For example, the JCC bombing scare was an American-Israeli Jewish kid. Of course, the same can be said for many types of hate crimes.

  • AndyWingall||

    Did you know if 2 gay boyfriends get into a fight and beat each other silly, some jurisdictions will gladly report that as a hate crime....

  • Lester224||

    The only thing I've noticed in my neighborhood which is about 30% Jewish is more swastika graffiti over the past year. Also the number of instances of the word combination "Jew commie" in online comments has increased, despite the fact that the number of actual Jews has decreased over the years (due to intermarriage and indifference).

    Not really hate crime, more like hate obnoxiousness. Emboldened fat unemployed basement dwellers.

  • Robespierre Josef Stalin Pot||

    Dear Gov. Brown:

    You really want to be in the same political entity as the voters in Alabama who seem poised to send a sex offender to the Senate? Really? Why? Good BBQ, I guess.

  • MLambridge||

    Better than the democrats Al Franken who we have photos of his sex offense

  • Rebel Scum||

    Hate Crimes in 2016: New FBI Numbers Show Little Change

    Fake news as long as Der Trumpenfuhrer is in office.

  • AndyWingall||

    According to the Chicago Tribune, this 5% increase is HUGE and indicates that Trump has indeed caused a huge uptick in hatred--of whites against non-whites of course. As the FBI stats show, only whites commit hate crimes. That sure is the case in Chicago, in which roughly 1 white person has been responsible for violent crime in that city so far this year.

  • vek||

    Well, the best part about these stats is that it actually shows that whites are LESS likely to commit hate crimes per capita! Blacks are represented at almost double their percentage of the population! Whites are almost 1/3 UNDER represented based on their percentage of the population! LOL So even their own over hyped statistics read correctly show that whites are LESS racist than other groups!

    The prog derp never ceases to amaze me.

  • MLambridge||

    Hate crimes against whites rose 19% while the population increase in the study went up only 2% with the additional locations

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    Hate Crimes only exist in the demented minds of Leftists.

  • MLambridge||

    Complains saying the prior stats may have not provided a complete picture but the author fails to.

    Ya there are 257 more places but there were 14,800 locations. The total population of what they were reporting increased by to 289.8mill from 283.8 million. So 6/283 = a 2% increase. So the hate crimes increase against whites and hispanics by 19%.

  • MLambridge||

    Complains saying the prior stats may have not provided a complete picture but the author fails to.

    Ya there are 257 more places but there were 14,800 locations. The total population of what they were reporting increased by to 289.8mill from 283.8 million. So 6/283 = a 2% increase. So the hate crimes increase against whites and hispanics by 19%.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online