It’s usually a good thing to be ranked near the top of a list – best cities to live in, high employment opportunities, etc. But last year Phoenix ranked near the top of a list that most folks would find reprehensible: hate crimes.
What is the definition of a “hate crime”?
As we pointed out in our blog (What is the Law in Arizona on Hate Crimes?) earlier this year, a hate crime is not a specific offense in our state. In fact, it is not even defined in Title 13 (Arizona Criminal Code). On the other hand, a crime motivated by, for example, race, religion, or sexual orientation, can be an aggravating factor that could lead to a longer sentence for that offense than would otherwise be applicable.
But regardless of the specifics of Arizona law, the federal government (specifically the FBI), does keep track of hate crimes across the country as part of its Uniform Crime Reporting Program. And the results are disturbing, to say the least. In 2017, not only did Phoenix rank third in the number of reported hate crimes among cities in the United States, the number was up by 33% over those in the previous year.
Specifics of the Phoenix Hate Crime Statistics
Because of much of the political rhetoric in the news, you might expect that the bulk of the hate crime problem would involve offenses against immigrants, particularly Hispanics and Muslims. But the fact is that in Phoenix, hate groups apparently target any group they feel is somehow “different.” Of the 230 hate crimes in the city in 2017, the breakdown by victim group is as follows:
- African-Americans – 74
- Gay Males – 32
- Whites – 28
- Jews – 27
- Hispanic/Latino – 25
- Multi-racial – 18
The balance includes about a dozen other groups, including Muslims, Native Americans, Asians, and others. And the most frequent crimes involved, not surprisingly, were assault, threats and intimidation, vandalism and property damage.
While Phoenix even outranked, in terms of absolute numbers, some cities with a significantly larger population, the good news is that preliminary figures for 2018 show a marked decrease in hate crimes in the city. We’ll have to wait to see the stats for the rest of the year before we can come to any conclusions about the trends in hate crimes in our area.
The Feldman Law Firm PLLC
1 E. Washington St #2240
Phoenix, AZ 85004