WASHINGTON — The number of hate crimes in major U.S. cities rose for the third consecutive year last year, driven by attacks on Jews, Muslims, blacks and LGBT people, preliminary police data exclusively provided to VOA show.
At least 1,056 hate crimes were committed in nine of nation’s largest cities in 2017, an increase of 18 percent from 2016 levels, according to police data compiled by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino.
Several major metropolitan areas, such as Washington, Philadelphia, Seattle and Phoenix, reported double-digit increases in hate-based crimes, extending a trend that started in 2015 and accelerated during the contentious presidential election campaign in 2016.
Among the nation’s five largest cities, the overall increase in hate crimes was smaller; however, the number of reported incidents rose to 719 from 664, an uptick of 8 percent.
There were 195 anti-Muslim hate crimes through the first nine months of 2017, a 20 percent increase from the same period in 2016, according to the rights group Council on American-Islamic Relations.
California led the nation with 73 incidents, followed by New York with 20 hate crimes, Florida with 11 incidents and Texas with nine hate incidents, according to CAIR. All four states have large Muslim populations.
Zainab Arain, research and advocacy coordinator for CAIR, attributed the relatively large number of incidents recorded in California and New York to the group’s large footprint and advocacy in those states.
“There is a likelihood of cases being reported more frequently” in California and New York, Arain said.
Property damage and physical assault were the most common hate crimes committed against Muslims.
The FBI reported in November that hate crimes against Muslims rose by nearly 20 percent in 2016 after jumping 67 percent in 2015.
Attacks against Muslims tend to be more violent than those against Jews, Levin said. That is partly because Muslims are “more identifiable when in religious attire and have a much higher degree of prejudice directed towards them,” he said.
In April, for example, a hijab-wearing woman was assaulted by a white man in downtown Los Angeles. A suspect was arrested.
In August, a Somali-American mosque was bombed in Bloomington, Minnesota. No one was hurt.