Sikhs faced the third largest number of hate crimes in 2018, FBI data shows

In a continuing trend, hate crimes towards Sikhs in the U.S. tripled, from 20 incidents in 2017 to 60 incidents in 2018, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)data released Nov. 12.

It said Sikhs faced the third largest number of hate crimes after Jews and Muslims in 2018, with law enforcement agencies reporting a total of 7,120 such crimes. The total number of hare crimes was slightly down from 7,175 the year before.

According to FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics, 2018, the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s latest compilation about bias-motivated incidents, the largest number of hate crimes based on religion were reported against Jews (835), followed by Muslims (188) and Sikhs (60).

Of the 6,266 known offenders, 53.6 percent were white, and 24.0 percent were black or African American.The release clarified that the term “known offenders”does not imply that the suspect's identity is known but that some aspect of the suspect was identified,thus distinguishing the suspect from an unknown offender.

Among the major findings of the report, were 188 anti-Muslim hate crimes, down slightly from last year but the fifth-highest total on record, and 14 anti-Hindu hate crimes recorded in 2018 – down from 15 in 2017.

“As we saw in 2017, white supremacy continues to be a primary motivation behind hate violence in the U.S., with over 50% of known offenders of reported hate crimes identified as whitein both 2017 and 2018,” SAALT (South Asian Americans Leading Together), said last week.

According to SAALT, data collection and underreporting of hate violence remains a significant problem. The Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics reports an average of 250,000 hate crimes every year in the U.S. which is 35 times more than what the FBI documented in 2018.

Only 13% of the over 16,000 participating law enforcement agencies reported any hate crimes in their jurisdictions. “Disturbingly, the murders of Khalid Jabara, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, and Heather Heyer in 2016 and 2017, like so many other hate crimes, have not been included in official FBI statistics. The vast majority of crimes are going unreported,” SAALT said.

The Sikh Coalitionexpressed similar sentiments, saying in a statement that while hate crimes remained relatively steady nationally, reported anti-Sikh hate crimes rose by 200 percent since 2017, making Sikhs the third most commonly-targeted religious group in the dataset.

It said equally disheartening is the fact that hate crimes remain systematically underreported across the United States.

“At the end of the day, this data simply isn’t giving us the accurate information we need to effectively counteract hate against targeted communities,” said Sim J. Singh, Sikh Coalition Senior Manager of Policy and Advocacy. “It’s past time for action. Congress must pass the next generation of common-sense legislation that equips law enforcement to better identify and track hate incidents with the bipartisan Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer NO HATE Act.”

According to an NPR report, the main concern for extremism trackers, however, is the rising level of violence — the report showed an increase in the number of “crimes against persons,” such as intimidation, assault and homicide.

“We're seeing a leaner and meaner type of hate crime going on,”it quoted Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino, as saying “Homicides were up and crimes against persons were up and that's an important thing to look at,’ he said.

The number of hate groups across the country also increased from 2017 to 2018, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization that monitors hate groups and other extremists. The SPLC tracked 954 hate groups across the U.S in 2017 and 1,020 in 2018.

Some advocates and researchers see a clear relationship between hate crimes and divisive rhetoric surrounding hot-button topics like immigration.

The NPR report said quoting a statement by Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab American Institute, that the data also expose a disturbing trend in our politics — and the impact it is having on people. “The Trump administration has advanced policies, and the president has trafficked in rhetoric, targeting the same communities that have also experienced a surge of hate violence.”

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