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FBI: Hate Crimes at ‘Highest Level in More Than a Decade’

With tensions steadily rising in America over the past few years, new FBI data released Monday shows that hate crime incidents increased 2.7 percent last year — “rising to their highest level in more than a decade,” reports Voice Of America (VOA) News. 

The figures were supported by statistics released by a United Nations report in mid-October, spotlighting the “alarming level” of hate crimes against Asian Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

UN officials blamed President Donald Trump for the rise in anti-Asian American sentiment, saying he is “seemingly legitimizing … the rising wave of racist and xenophobic attacks,” according to Business Insider.

The UN report claimed that rhetoric from Trump labeling the disease as the “Chinese virus” and “Wuhan virus,” has helped fuel the bigotry.

Previous research cited by Business Insider has also suggested there is a link between the president’s rhetoric and the “skyrocketing incidence of hate crimes” that has hallmarked his time in office. 

In 2017, for example, researchers at Tufts University found that, among test subjects, “exposure to Trump’s prejudiced statements made people more likely to write offensive things.”

VOX News contends that this has gone back as far as 2015, noting that the Guardian and ABC News have identified almost 60 people that have enacted violence in Trump’s name, citing him as their “inspiration.”

According to the newly released FBI data, there were roughly 7,314 reported hate crime incidents last year in communities where police departments reported back to the FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR).

The last time the U.S. has seen documented numbers like this was in 2018 with 7,120 hate crimes reported. 

The FBI  mentions that these numbers may sound familiar, as hate crimes have been on a steady increase over the past few years, and VOA News and Business Insider report that  hate crimes have surged nearly 21 percent during the first three years of Trump’s time in office, the FBI data shows. 

“The latest rise in hate crime signals a new brutal landscape, where targeted attacks against rotating victim groups not only result in spikes, but increases are also being driven by a more widely dispersed rise in the most violent offenses,” said Brian Levin, executive director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University.

The key findings of the FBI data show that most hate crimes reported in 2019 were motivated by race and ethnicity followed by religion.

Although most hate crimes were characterized as non-violent — like spray-painting property — there was a sharp increase in hate-motivated homicides, which more than doubled. 

This marked the third consecutive year with an increase in hate-motivated homicides, and many say when the 2020 data is released next year, the story won’t change. . 

According to data compiled by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, VOA News reports that homicides committed by white supremacists and other far-right extremists also rose for the third straight year in 2019.

“These racist killers dominated the overall category of ‘extremist motivated’ homicides with a total higher than that of all extremist killings combined for 2018,” the center said in a report.

The recent report cited that there was an increase in over 2,500 racist acts committed against Asian Americans between March and August of this year. 

One incident, described by researchers at the Stop AAPI Hate, a colation formed to combat racism during the pandemic, took place in Los Angeles California, where a Japanese American woman was walking with her two-year-old son when a white man rolled down his window and said, “Tell your kid when he grows up that China did this all.”

On the other side of the country, another reported incident took place at a grocery store outside Scranton, Pennsylvania, where a man yelled to an Asian American, “This pandemic wouldn’t have happened if you stayed in your country where you belong,” followed by a racial slur.

“Our data and evidence of the real-life stories confirm that Asian-Americans are facing increasing racist and xenophobic attacks, catalyzed by rhetoric from the president and other government leadership,” Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, and a leader of Stop AAPI Hate, said in a statement obtained by Business Insider. 

To combat the rise in hate crimes, House Democrats passed a resolution in September calling on officials to publicly condemn anti-Asian racism and “refrain from using terms such as ‘Chinese virus” and ‘Kung Flu’.” 

Members of the GOP resisted the pleas. Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio and a close Trump ally, dismissed the resolution as “just another opportunity to attack the president;” while Rep. Andy Biggs, of Arizona, deemed it “woke culture on steroids,” according to Business Insider. 

This summary was prepared by TCR staff writer Andrea Cipriano.