Things That Matter

Violent Hate Crimes Are Up And Latinos And The Transgender Community Are The Primary Targets

Violent hate crimes in 2018 were the highest they have been in 16 years, according to a report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While hate crimes in general slightly decreased, the number of violent crimes significantly increased. Moreover, Latinx and trans people increasingly became targets of hate crimes. 

The FBI collected data from over 16,000 police departments and law enforcement agencies which found 7,120 hate crimes logged. This was just a 1 percent decrease from 2017. However small, being just a difference of 55 incidents, it is the first time the total number of hate crimes has gone down in four years. 

Violent hate crimes increase, while total hate crimes decrease.

Violent hate crimes, which differ from hate crimes that involve property, jumped from 4,090 to 4,571. The 12 percent jump reveals white supremacists have become increasingly emboldened. 

“This is really significant,” Brian Levin, the director for the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism who analyzed the data told The Guardian.  “The more we have these derisive stereotypes broadcasted into the ether, the more people are going to inhale that toxin.”

Levin implied the popular hateful rhetorics of our time have violent outcomes for the targets of such ire. Hate crimes against Muslims and Arab-Americans, Jewish people, and Black Americans (although still the most targeted group)decreased in 2018. While hate crimes increased for Latinxs and trans people who are more frequent subjects of condemnation during the Trump administration era. 

The disabled, Latinx and trans people face higher rates of hate crimes in the Trump era.

Anti-Latinx hate crimes, the Walmart El Paso shooting being one example, increased by 14 percent jumping to 485 reports in 2018, and increasing 48 percent over five years. 

“The number of crimes targeting Muslims cratered,” Levin said. “Anti-Semitic crimes dropped. But the ones targeting Latinos increased for the third year.”

Meanwhile, trans and gender-nonconforming people saw an increase of 41 percent with 168 hate crimes reported. People with disabilities saw a 37 percent surge to 159 reports as well. 

“We’re seeing a leaner and meaner type of hate crime going on,” Levin told NPR. “Homicides were up and crimes against persons were up and that’s an important thing to look at.”

Even with this many, experts still say the FBI’s number is a “significant undercount” according to The Guardian. 

“[The President’s] white supremacist rhetoric and talking points that vilify people” are encouraging violent attacks, Jorge Gutierrez, the executive director of Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, told The Guardian. “Every day, people are afraid to come together in public spaces. People are afraid to be proud of who they are.” 

Another report by the Guardian found that Latinxs were changing their behaviors as they grapple with anti-Latinx attitudes. 

“Every day when I take my daughter to school we pray. I ask God to protect her,” Lidia Carrillo, an immigrant from Mexico, said “I don’t know if I’m going to see my daughter or my husband at the end of the day.”

Other Latinxs said they went out at night to run errands when fewer people were out, they avoid crowded places, and tried to be aware of the nearest exits at all times. Others were so traumatized from hearing about the El Paso shooting they didn’t leave the house for days.

Trump’s hateful rhetoric is a part of the problem according to experts. 

Trump spread misinformation about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) saying some of them were “no angels” and many were “hardened criminals,” on the very same day the Supreme Court began to weigh in on whether to keep the program. 

“Trump has also repeatedly pushed anti-LGBT policies, and he and other Republicans have aggressively targeted trans rights and advocated for discriminatory laws,” according to the Guardian. 

What is known as the “Trump Effect” has become a solid theory with mounting evidence. The Washington Post reportedthat in 2016, counties that hosted Trump rallies saw a 226 percent increase in hate crimes. Recent academic research found that just hearing Trump’s offensive rhetoric against a group of people made individuals more likely to write offensive things about such targets. It is naive to think Trump will stop when it’s the reason he garnered his support in the first place. 

“While some observers have explained Trump’s success as a result of economic anxiety, the data demonstrate that anti-immigrant sentiment, racism, and sexism are much more strongly related to support for Trump,” Vanessa Williamson and Isabella Gelfand wrote for the Brookings Institute

“Trump did not do especially well with non-college-educated whites, compared to other Republicans. He did especially well with white people who express sexist views about women and who deny racism exists.”

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