By JARED MILLER and RANIA AMPNTEL CHAFINT/Montana State News
The recent presidential election has caused a surge in hate crimes against certain minorities. Hate crimes are offenses motivated by bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity, according to the FBI.
President Trump’s election campaign has caused a surge in hate crimes against black, Muslim, L.G.B.T and Jewish people in 2015, according to the Southern Law Poverty Center, an advocacy group specialized in civil rights. The organization attributed the surge in hate crimes to President Trump’s rhetoric against those minorities during the election.
But presidential elections do not always have a negative effect on hate crimes. After Barack Obama’s election in 2008, race-related hate crimes saw a decline, especially amongst anti-black incidents. In 2008, there were 2,876 incidents reported against blacks to the FBI, compared to 1,745 reported instances in 2015.
Terrorist attacks can also trigger anti-Muslim hate crimes, such as the surge that followed the events of 9/11, breaking the rate that had been declining steadily in years leading up to 2000. In 2015, anti-Muslim hate crime figures showed an 89-percent overall increase from 2000.
The number is alarmingly high compared to the years preceding the attacks on the World Trade Center. From 1996 to 2000, hate crimes against Muslims averaged just over 24 incidents annually. Since 2001, that average has increased to over 164. This is approximately a 674 percent increase.
Amongst religious groups, Jews are most likely to be the target of hate crimes, and while anti-Jewish crimes declined by 40 percent since 1996, those rates have been increasing again since 2014, coming to a total of 664 recorded incidents in 2015.
At the same time, LGBT persons are the most likely of any minority group to be the target of hate crimes. LGBT persons are three times as likely to be targeted as black people, and twice as likely as Muslims, per 100,000 population, according to the 2015 data.
Anti-LGBT hate crimes average about 1,298 incidents annually, with a peak of 1,630 reported incidents in 2008. The 11-percent surge in 2008 is most likely due to increased reporting amongst victims who felt safer doing so than before.
Since 2013, the FBI has begun recording hate crimes incidents based on gender identity, and in 2015, hate crimes against transgender and non-gender-conforming persons came to 118 total recorded incidents.