hate crimes report

Members of the Indian American community attended a peace vigil in Bellevue, Washington, for Srinivas Kuchibhotla, the 32-year-old Indian engineer killed at a bar in Olathe, Kansas in an apparent hate crime. (Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images)

A new report on hate crime statistics released by the FBI Nov. 13 reveals a disturbing surge of hate crimes against the Indian American community, particularly Muslims and Sikhs.

The report compiled data from more than 16,149 participating law enforcement agencies across the country, who used the Uniform Crime Report, which – as of 2016 – includes data specifically about the number of hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists. Though the number of hate crime incidents increased in 2017, the number of reporting agencies also increased by more than 1,000, noted the FBI in the release of the report.

Participating law enforcement agencies reported 7,175 hate crimes to UCR in 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016, about a 17 percent increase. The largest number of incidents involved race, ancestry, and ethnicity, in which African Americans were overwhelmingly the victims, with 2,358 reported offenses and 2,458 victims. A total of 152 anti-Asian hate crimes were reported in this category.

Incidents related to religion constituted the second highest number of reported hate crimes, with 1564 incidents and 1,749 victims. Jewish people were overwhelmingly the targets; more than 1,000 Jews were victimized for their religious beliefs. Muslims were the second-largest number of victims: 325, from 273 incidents.

Twenty anti-Sikh incidents – from 24 incidents – resulted in 26 victims. The FBI reported 11 hate crimes against Hindus in 2017, with 15 victims. Eight hate crimes were anti-Buddhist, with 12 victims.

More than half the perpetrators were white.

California had the largest number of law enforcement agencies participating in data collection: 730 agencies participated, and 230 submitted reports documenting 1.094 hate crimes.

The investigative news site ProPublica notes that hate crime data is vastly under-reported, because it relies on local law enforcement to collect the data, and because the majority of victims do not report such incidents to police. It cited a survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics which estimated that the number of hate crimes committed each year is closer to 250,000. ProPublica has maintained a database of hate crimes for a project called “Documenting Hate.”

The Sikh Coalition noted there was a 243 percent surge in hate crimes against its community, and stated the FBI’s data was flawed. “Due to systemic under-reporting, there remains a significant gap between FBI hate crime data and the reality on the ground for Sikhs and other minority communities across the United States,” stated the Sikh Coalition, the largest Sikh advocacy organization in the nation.

“While everybody should be horrified by these jaw-dropping statistics, these numbers still fail to paint a complete picture of the enormity of the problem,” said Sikh Coalition legal director Amrith Kaur in a press statement. “We need better training for law enforcement to identify hate crimes when they occur and we must make federal hate crime reporting mandatory for all law enforcement agencies.”

Sikh Coalition Senior Advocacy Manager Sim Singh obliquely referenced the Trump administration, stating: “Politicians are culpable when they drive divisive policies and bigoted political rhetoric that routinely puts lives at greater risk.”

South Asian Americans Leading Together also faulted the FBI’s data as vast under-reporting of the hate crimes perpetuated against the South Asian American community.

The data represents a continuing trend of increased violence against the community, said the organization in a press statement, noting that current levels of hate crime against South Asian Americans surpass the post 9/11 violence against the community.

“The lack of political will on the part of the Department of Justice to collect this critical data combined with this administration’s flawed approach to understanding and addressing hate crimes makes us all less safe and places a burden of data collection on communities,” stated SAALT.

“Additionally, this administration’s continued refusal to acknowledge the growing problem of white supremacy ignores the primary motivation behind the violence targeting our communities,” said the organization.

Hate crimes are the highest investigative priority in the FBI’s civil rights program, said the agency in a press statement summating the results of the report.

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