Little Government Data on White Supremacist Crime

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There is little government data on the volume of violent crime committed by white supremacists, says Such actions often are dismissed as the workings of so-called lone wolves. Without comprehensive data made available to the public, this characterization is difficult to rebut. Lawfare reviews the available data. The Justice Department’s National Security Division (NSD) offers substantial data on hate crimes, but not all white supremacist violent crimes are charged as hate crimes. The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ victimization survey issued a report of hate crime victimization from 2004 to 2015. But this dataset lumps intimidation and vandalism and other miscellaneous crimes together with violent crime and it lacks specificity as to the offender’s ideology. The survey identifies bias using only the general categories of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and disability. It is impossible to accurately identify the white supremacists among the perpetrators.

FBI data comes from law enforcement agencies that report crimes motivated in whole or in part by the offenders’ bias under the Hate Crimes Statistics Act. The FBI uses terms like “Anti-Black,” “Anti-Arab,” “Anti-Jewish,” “Anti-Gay,” “Anti-Female,” and “Anti-Transgender,” but the data don’t tell who the offender favors. Because many white supremacist violent crimes may be prosecuted in state court, states may be best situated to identify the offenders’ ideology properly. New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) has the most specific government data on the problem to date. The agency’s 2017 Terrorism Threat Assessment reported 22 domestic terrorism attacks in 2016, seven of which were committed by white supremacists nationwide. Several other states, including California and Massachusetts, provide public access data about hate crimes within their boundaries. These datasets, too, suffer a combination of the federal pitfalls: not specifically describing the offender’s ideology and not comparing offender’s ideology and type of crime.

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