WASHINGTON — Hate crimes, including attacks against American Jews and Muslims, spiked in several key U.S. cities in 2016, underscoring an upsurge that started during the presidential campaign and has continued unabated, according to data collected by researchers at California State University, San Bernardino.
Previously unpublished data by the university’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism show that hate crimes in at least six major urban centers, including New York City, Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, registered double-digit increases last year.
New York City notched an uptick of 24 percent in hate crimes, the highest in over a decade.
New York state had an increase of 20 percent.
Chicago saw a rise of 24 percent, the highest since at least 2010.
Cincinnati, Ohio, saw hate crimes jump by 38 percent.
Columbus, Ohio, reported an increase of nearly 10 percent.
Montgomery County in Maryland, adjacent to the nation’s capital, had an increase of more than 42 percent.
Seattle, Washington, registered an increase of 6 percent in malicious harassment.
While this is preliminary data, based on information provided by state and local law enforcement and government agencies, the findings represent an initial glimpse into trends in hate crimes in 2016.
The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling for the FBI to investigate the death of a Muslim teenager who was discovered hanging from a tree.
The incident, which the medical examiner initially ruled a suicide, involves 18-year-old Ben Keita, whose body was discovered in a wooded area of Lake Stevens in January. He’d vanished in November.
“Ben was a happy young man,” father Ibrahima Keita told Q13 Fox. He said his son had no history of depression or anxiety.
However, the medical examiner later changed the cause of death to undetermined. Two reasons were cited, according to KIRO. The rope used to hang the teen was tied 50 feet high in the tree, and a search of the area just weeks earlier had not turned up anything.
According to Washington CAIR, Keita was found hanging in an area that was searched at least twice by police before his body was finally discovered.
Before the elections, we were told that our fears of a Trump presidency were unfounded, that we were overreacting, and should have faith in humanity. But in recent days, less than two months after the election, we hear stories daily that are horrifying and heartbreaking. We hear stories of Latino boys and girls terrified of going to school out of fear that they’ll be separated from their families. We hear stories of Muslim parents begging their daughters not to wear hijab in public for fear for their lives.
We hear similar stories of Jewish, African American, Indian, and LGBTQ adults and children not only afraid of bullying or harassment, but of losing their lives or their parents. This, we can all agree, is both enraging and heartbreaking. These fears are not unfounded. All of a sudden, we seem to hear about more hate crimes being perpetrated against various groups and communities. So the question remains, are there more hate crimes being perpetrated? Or are we just being more sensitive to isolated incidents and feeling insecure about the current political climate?
A fire started at a central Florida mosque early Friday morning was arson, local officials have confirmed. One of the side doors of the Islamic Society of New Tampa was found with bullet holes, with a rope pushed through to start the fire, according to a regular visitor who arrived at the mosque after hearing there was a fire.
Hillsborough Country Fire Rescue later confirmed that the incident had been ruled as arson.
Arshadd Malik, who described the scene, said he was pretty shaken up to have such an incident happen at a place of prayer.
“I am so upset about it,” he told CBS8. “This is a place of worship to God. You are trying to burn down a place of worship? Is this the tolerance that we have?”
“We are here to practice just whatever we want. Right? So you cannot hate people like that. Hating me? Hating God? Is this what the USA is? Is this what our constitution tells you?”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has offered a reward of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals or persons responsible for the fire. The Florida chapter of the civil rights group said that the incident was a “heinous act of terror.”
Police in Davis are investigating another hate incident targeting the city’s Muslim community.
The UC Davis Police Department says that overnight Friday into Saturday, someone left a package of pork tenderloins on the doorstep of an apartment on Orchard Park Drive, off of Russell Boulevard.
Officers say the residents of the apartment are Muslim. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime because of pork being a prohibited food for people of the Muslim faith.
No suspects have been identified so far, police say.
The incident comes after a series of hate crimes against Muslims around the area. In January, a woman was caught on camera smashing the windows at the Islamic Center of Davis. She also left bacon on a door handle. She has not been identified, but authorities did raid a home last week connected to the investigation.
Earlier in February, a Roseville Islamic center was the target of vandals. Much of the building was left defaced with hate speech aimed at Muslims. No suspects have been identified in this incident either.
“Shoulder to Shoulder,” a project by the students of University of Washington Bothell class, comes with a strong anti-Islamophobia message.