The FBI’s annual report on hate crimes shows violent attacks increased in 2018 even as hate crimes of all kinds remained fairly flat, The New York Times reports. The bureau has made a significant effort in recent years to increase reporting of personal attacks motivated by bias or prejudice, but victims’ reporting rates remain low and many cities and even entire states failed to collect or report the data last year. These perennial problems render year-to-year comparisons for the nation as a whole unreliable and mark the FBI’s report as a better gauge of crime-reporting than of the actual trends in the crimes themselves.
Physical assaults against people accounted for 61 percent of the 7,120 incidents classified as hate crimes by law enforcement officials nationwide. The FBI said there were 4,571 reported hate crimes against people in 2018, many of them in America’s largest cities, involving victims from a wide range of ethnic and religious backgrounds. “The trends show more violence, more interpersonal violence, and I think that’s probably reliable,” said James Nolan, a former FBI crime analyst who helped oversee the National Hate Crime Data Collection Program from 1995-2000. The data points toward a change from young people committing vandalism and other property crimes toward more deliberate attacks on people, said Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, who produced an independent analysis of the FBI’s figures. “We’re seeing a shift from the more casual offender with more shallow prejudices to a bit more of an older assailant who acts alone,” Levin said. “There’s a diversifying base of groups that are being targeted. We’re getting back to more violence.”