A new report says that there was a large spike in hate crimes in the Phoenix area last year. Data released by the FBI shows that the number of incidents in our area rose by 26% in just one year. While the trend is consistent with the upswing in hate crimes nationally, the percentage increase was significantly higher than in the country overall.
The FBI tells us that hate crimes are the agency’s highest priority when it comes to its Civil Rights program. It defines a hate crime as a traditional offense with an added element of bias. Here are some of the important statistics from last year, according
to the feds:
- There were just under 6,000 single-bias incidents reported during 2015, involving over 7,000 victims;
- Almost 60% of the incidents related to race/ethnicity/ancestry. Almost 20% involved religious bias. And more than 17% concerned sexual orientation. The balance of the incidents involved gender identity, disability and gender bias.
- There were over 30 incidents involving multiple bias issues.
- The nature of the incidents varied. Of the hate crimes that were classified as crimes against persons, the incidents were divided among intimidation, assault, and aggravated assault.
- Most hate crimes occurred in or near residences.
- Among the offenders, almost half were white, and about a quarter were black/African-American.
The national average of hate crimes rose last year by 6.8%. This is a relatively small jump, at least compared with the 26% increase in Phoenix. The question is, why the disparity? Some believe it is the result of the lack of consistent reporting. Mississippi, we note, reported 0 hate crimes in 2015. On the other hand, we believe it would be a mistake to discount the trend of an increasing number of hate crimes. In that regard, hate crimes against Muslims soared nationally, increasing by about 66% in 2015 over the previous year. And in Phoenix, the number of hate crimes with a religious motive doubled last year.
We understand that there are flaws in the reporting system. Nevertheless, the data demonstrates that the trend toward an increase in hate crimes – including those based on religion – are on the rise across the country, including in Phoenix.
The Feldman Law Firm PLLC
1 E. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004