Aug 30, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Report: Hate crimes surged in most big cities in 2022

Change in hate crimes among largest U.S. cities, 2021 to 2022
Data: Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism report; Chart: Axios Visuals

Most of the nation's 10 largest cities had significant jumps in hate crimes last year, increases that averaged 22% to a record 1,889 cases, according to a new report.

Why it matters: It was the second straight year of increases in the big cities' overall average number of hate crimes — typically defined as violence stemming from victims' race, color, sexuality, religion or national origin.

  • The unpublished report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, reflects a 22-year trend of increasing hate crimes nationwide, amid a rise in white nationalism and soaring numbers of attacks on Asian Americans during the pandemic.
  • Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest city, had the most reported hate crimes — a record 609, with 195 of those classified as anti-Black, 98 as anti-gay (male), 91 as anti-Jewish and 88 anti-Latino.
  • Chicago, the third-largest city, had the biggest increase — 84.6%, followed by Austin, Texas, at 58.6%.

There are positive signs for some big cities in the report: Phoenix, San Diego and San Antonio had significant declines in hate crimes last year.

Zoom in: Among smaller cities — those with populations of 500,000 to 1 million — Sacramento, Calif., saw the most significant percentage rise in hate crimes (47.4%), followed by Kansas City, M0. (32.3%).

Zoom out: Black Americans were the most frequently targeted group in many cities, but the study said there were some cities where the LGBTQ+ community, Asian Americans, whites and Jews were the most attacked.

State of play: The new report comes days after Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department will investigate the killing of three Black people in Jacksonville, Fla., as a "hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism."

What they're saying: "A lot of people are talking about civil war and all that. That's leading to a climate where hate crimes increase," the center's Brian Levin tells Axios.

  • Levin said hate crimes have jumped in recent decades partly because of better record keeping but also because of hate spreading quickly on social media.

Yes, but: Early data suggest that hate crimes declined in major cities in the first part of 2023.

But, but, but: Such crimes tend to pick up at the end of the year around religious holidays — and in the months before presidential elections, Levin warned.

The center collects hate crime stats from police data, state reports and open records requests.

  • In recent years, it's collected more data than the FBI, which struggles to get law enforcement agencies from across the country to submit data on hate crimes.

Background: A supplemental report from the FBI released in March said increased in 2021; the agency initially had reported a decline.

  • The FBI is expected to release 2022 data on violent and property crimes next month.
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