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Students from Washington, D.C. public schools participate in a post-election protest. (Photo: Lorie Shaull/cc/flickr)

Students from Washington, D.C. public schools participate in a post-election protest. (Photo: Lorie Shaull/cc/flickr)

New Research Reveals Trump Riding on Wave of Increased Hate Crimes

New data obtained by Huffington Post indicates first consecutive annual increases in hate crime since 2004

Andrea Germanos

As rights advocates continue to denounce how President Donald Trump has emboldened intolerant ideology, newly obtained data shows that the number of hate crimes rose nationally in 2016, with figures from this year pointing to a troubling trend.

The data looking at crimes motivated by racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, or other anti-otherness comes from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino and was obtained by the Huffington Post.

The findings from Professor Brian Levin, director of the center, show that from 2015 to 2016, there was a five-percent uptick in hate crimes; that follows a 7-percent rise from 2014 to 2015. "If these moderate overall increases of 5 percent hold nationally for 2016," Levin told HuffPo, "this will be the first time since 2004 that the nation has experienced consecutive annual increases in hate crime."

Levin's assessment is based on two data sets, one from law enforcement agencies in 31 large cities and counties which found 2,101 hate crimes in 2016. The second is from 13 states and showed 3,887 hate crimes during the year, mirroring the rise indicated in the first set.

Four of the nation's five biggest cities—Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia—had double-digit increases. For Washington, D.C., the increase was a whopping 62 percent. Another notable finding, writes reporter Christopher Mathias, is that "of the seven cities that broke down anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2016, six saw increases in that category."

The official FBI hate crime statistics, which are released in November, normally show an uptick in presidential election years, Mathias notes. But 2016 stood part, Levin told HuffPo, because "with the exception of the Midwest―and particularly among the largest jurisdictions with the best data, [there] was a clear and dramatic spike for the election period that was unlike anything I can recall in my professional career."

Among the examples noted by Mathias is Philadelphia, which "counted seven hate crimes in November, compared to only one over the previous four Novembers combined."

2017 appears to be on track to be another year with an increase in hate crimes. Levin said that official police hate crime data from 13 large cities shows an almost 20 percent rise compared to 2016.

As Mathias' colleague Samantha Store said on Twitter, "The data backs up alarming anecdotal evidence of emboldened bigotry in America." 

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) last year documented 867 bias-related incidents in the 10 days following the presidential election, calling it a "national outbreak of hate," and "the predictable result of the campaign [Trump] waged," while Amnesty International said 2016 was the year that "the cynical use of 'us vs. them' narratives of blame, hate, and fear took on a global prominence to a level not seen since the 1930s." The human rights group also said Trump was among world leaders who are "wielding a toxic agenda that hounds, scapegoats, and dehumanizes entire groups of people."

But the full scope of hate crimes in the U.S. in any given year is unclear, as not all figures are turned over to the FBI. Seeking to address that problem, the Documenting Hate project, led by ProPublica and launched in the wake of Trump's election, offers a database of hate crimes and a tool for victims or witnesses to such a crime to document the incident.

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