New FBI report finds hate crime murders showed sharp increase in 2018

traffic along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington streaks past FBI headquarters. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

There have been many arguments made that the rhetoric coming from the Trump administration has emboldened hate culture in America, giving a path to hate crimes. Now a report from the FBI confirms that hate crime murders have indeed reached a record high in 2018.

According to the FBI data released on Tuesday, not only did hate-based homicides see a significant increase to 24 from 15 in 2017, but last year saw the most hate-motivated violent offenses in 17 years.

READ MORE: FBI report shows 17 percent spike in hate crimes in 2017

Where the hate is coming from

Experts say the disturbing rise in hate killings illustrates how racially charged political rhetoric and normalized vitriol on social media has prompted offenders who once would have directed their rage into property damage to instead point their rage in the direction of actual people.

“All of these discussions are much more hostile. Just the aggressiveness about the dangerousness of the other,” said James Nolan, a sociology professor at West Virginia University and former FBI crime analysis unit chief, told the Huffington Post. “It seems to be a much more aggressive dialogue that seems to be playing out in practice also.”

In 2018 law enforcement agencies have logged in 3,099 violent hate crimes which is hands down the most since 3,567 violent hate offenses that were reported in 2001. Of the 24 hate crime homicides, 11 were the people killed in Pittsburgh in October 2018 by an avowed anti-Semite’s attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue.

READ MORE: Blacks most frequently targeted by hate crimes, new study says, but we already know this

Only 2,026 of the nation’s 16,039 law enforcement agencies ― about 12 percent ― reported hate offenses to the bureau last year which means the FBI’s report could undercount hate crimes in general. While these numbers capture a trend, the true scope of the crimes may not have been captured completely.

Looking specifically at those trends, the FBI report shows that over 59% of crimes stemmed from a race or ethnicity hatred, with over 46% of those being fueled by anti-Black American bias specifically. Religious bias accounts for more than 18% of the offenses, with 57% of those religious offenses being anti-Jewish hate crimes. Crimes targeting Latinos also skyrocketed and went up by a whopping 41%.