KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Newly released statistics from the FBI show a 17 percent increase in hate crimes, nationwide, in 2017.
It marks the third consecutive year in which the number of reported hate crimes grew. The FBI tabulated 7,175 hate crime incidents last year compared to 6,121 in 2016.
Racial and ethnic bias topped the list of motivators for hate crimes with 59.5 percent of the total hate crimes reported.
Attacks against Jewish people accounted for 58 percent of crimes motivated by anti-religious bias last year, a 4 percent increase from 2016.
“The trend has been there for a number of years now,” said Michael Tabman, a retired FBI Special Agent in Charge. “It’s something to be concerned about.”
Tabman believes many white supremacist groups have skillfully used social media and the internet to breath new life into a brand of hatred many had hoped was on the decline.
“Some of those people fanning the flames are hoping to connect with that one or two people who were just on the edge and just waiting to hear that message, and they’re using that as a rationalization to go commit some violent act,” Tabman said.
Karen Aroesty with the Heartland chapter of Anti-Defamation League agrees.
“I don’t think anybody should be surprised,” Aroesty said. “There is an enormous amount of anger out there and an enormous amount of people willing to say things they never used to and I think the internet’s a piece of it.”
You can read the FBI’s full 2017 hate crime report by visiting this site.