The number of hate crimes rose nearly 5 percent across the country in 2016, according to new data released by the FBI this past week. It marks the second year in a row hate crimes have increased.
In Maryland, however, hate crimes have decreased 14 percent, according to the data.
Experts caution there is a big caveat with the FBI data: It’s based on voluntary reporting from more than 15,000 police agencies across the country, and hate crimes generally are underreported to police.
Maryland’s figures are a case in point, according to Maryland State Police, which collects crime reports on behalf of law enforcement agencies across the state and sends them to the FBI.
FBI data showed the number of hate crimes in Maryland decreased to 37 last year from 43 in 2015. But that number is less than half of the actual number of reported hate crimes in the state, according to a Maryland State Police spokeswoman.
That number should have been 93, which would represent a 116 percent increase from 2015, the spokeswoman said. Nine out of 19 Maryland law enforcement agencies reporting such crimes in 2016 failed to submit their reports before the FBI cut-off date, she said.
Nationally, dozens of cities with more than 100,000 residents either reported no hate crimes or did not submit their hate crime data, according to an analysis by the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights organization, which has called for better reporting.
“Hate crimes demand priority attention because of their special impact,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt. “They not only hurt one victim, but they also intimidate and isolate a victim’s whole community and weaken the bonds of our society.”
FBI data show reported hate crimes increased across the country to 6,121 crimes in 2016 from 5,850 the year before.
Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, said the increase in hate crimes nationally reflects an increase in hate crimes around the 2016 presidential election, a big increase in some large jurisdictions, a sustained level of crimes against groups including African-Americans who have long been the the top target of hate crimes, and a jump in crimes against Latinos, whites, Muslims and transgender people.
The Baltimore Sun is partnering with newsrooms around the country in a ProPublica-led project to collect recent and reliable data on hate crimes in the United States. If you have been the victim of a hate crime, please use this form to contribute to this database.