Hate crimes soared nationwide last year to new heights not seen in more than a decade, according to new FBI data, and there was an increase in the number of victims targeted on the basis of gender identity.
The 2019 nationwide statistics were announced just weeks after the NYPD reported fresher numbers showing a more recent drop in hate crimes this year compared to last year in New York City.
But the release of the annual nationwide FBI report, which includes information on race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other demographics, revealed concerning longer-term patterns. Law enforcement agencies logged 7,314 criminal incidents, according to the FBI, for a total of 8,559 related offenses. Last year marked an increase of nearly 200 criminal incidents from the year before and represented the third consecutive year with at least 7,100 criminal incidents across the United States.
National statistics from 2019 coincide with fresh numbers showing general improvement in New York City
The cases overwhelmingly pertained to single-issue bias incidents, 57.6 percent of which were tied to offenders’ bias in relation to race, ethnicity, or ancestry. Approximately 17 percent of the 7,103 single-issue bias incidents last year stemmed from sexual orientation-related bias, while 2.8 percent of the incidents were motivated by gender identity-related bias. Those numbers remained largely unchanged compared to 2018 when 17 percent of single-bias incidents were tied to bias on the basis of sexual orientation and 2.4 percent of single-bias incidents were motivated by gender identity.
There were more than 5,500 hate crime-related incidents last year that specifically targeted individuals, according to the FBI. Of the 1,429 victims targeted for sexual orientation bias, 61.8 percent were victims of anti-gay bias against men, 25 percent suffered from anti-LGBTQ bias more generally, and 10 percent were victims of anti-lesbian bias. It is possible that some of the crimes categorized as motivated by sexual orientation bias might in fact have been based specifically on gender identity bias.
The number of victims who were targeted on the basis of gender identity increased from 189 last year to 227 this year. Meanwhile, there were 1,429 victims targeted for their sexual orientation in 2019 compared to 1,445 victims last year.
Of the bias incidents that were motivated by homophobia in 2019, 28 percent occurred in or near residences, 22 percent happened on highways, roads, alleys, streets, or sidewalks, and 7.3 percent were at schools or colleges. Gender identity-based crimes showed a somewhat similar pattern, with 25.8 percent of such incidents occurring at a residence or home and 25.3 happening on highways, roads, alleys, streets, or sidewalks.
Geographically, California led the nation with 1,105 hate crime-related incidents, followed by New York, which saw 611 such incidents. The State of Washington registered 542 incidents and Texas reported 456.
Time will tell whether those numbers will improve this year, but some encouraging signs are emerging out of New York City. Hate crimes have dipped by 34 percent so far this year in the five boroughs. There were 26 sexual orientation-related hate crimes through November 1 of this year compared to 44 at the same point last year — a 41 percent decrease — though the chart provided by the NYPD does not specify a category for gender identity.
Anti-Muslim hate crimes dipped by 75 percent in the five boroughs, anti-Semitic hate crimes were reduced by 49 percent, and hate crimes targeting Hispanic individuals decreased by 83 percent. Thirty-three hate crimes targeted Black individuals, up from 32 at the same point last year, and anti-Asian hate crimes remained the same.
The nationwide and local numbers are surfacing during a record-breaking year of violence targeting transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary individuals across the nation, especially trans women of color.
At least 37 transgender or non-binary individuals have suffered violent deaths this year across the nation and many families are still seeking justice for those victims. Due to a patchwork system of state laws, many locations lack non-discrimination protections or hate crimes laws protecting individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
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