States Mull Tougher Laws to Suppress Surging Hate, Bigotry

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A patchwork of state and federal laws, along with underreporting, means it is unclear how often hate crimes occur — a portrait advocates say is needed to help shape public policy and heighten awareness. The F.B.I.’s latest report, released in November, showed a 6.7 percent rise in reported hate crimes in 2015. But reporting is optional for police agencies, and nearly nine out of 10 reported that no hate crimes happened in their jurisdiction in 2015. Anecdotal evidence suggests hates crimes are climbing again this year. “What you are seeing is this widespread feeling of fear and disenfranchisement,” said Brian Levin, a California criminal justice professor who studies hate. “Social, political and demographic changes are becoming so rapid and unpredictable that people are reverting back to a kind of tribalism and acting out with hate crimes or acts of uncivilized bigotry.”

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