By Michael Hernandez
Hate crimes across the U.S. rose by nearly a fifth in 2017, according to data released by the FBI Tuesday.
The 17 percent surge is the largest since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks when Muslims, Arabs and those perceived to be Muslim were targeted. The latest figures are also the third consecutive annual increase in bias incidents.
More than half of the 7,175 hate crimes reported to the FBI by law enforcement agencies nationwide for the 2017 calendar year involved acts against individuals such as assault or intimidation, while 3,000 were attacks against property including vandalism, or robbery. In some instances there was overlap in the two categories.
Nearly two-thirds -- 59.6 percent -- of the victims in 2017 were targeted based on their race, ethnicity or ancestry. Roughly 20 percent of victims were targeted because of their religion while about 15 percent were victimized based on their sexual-orientation.
Anti-black bias motivated roughly half of all race-based hate crimes, followed by 17 percent of incidents that were motivated by anti-white bias and 11 percent that were motivated by anti-Latino bias.
In all, last year saw a 58.1 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents and an 18.6 increase in Islamophobic attacks.
"This report is a call to action—and we will heed that call," Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in response to the report. "The Department of Justice’s top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes. They are also despicable violations of our core values as Americans."
Participating in the FBI's data collection program is not compulsory for law enforcement agencies, and the figures should be treated as nationwide minimums as some department choose not to report their bias incidents to the bureau. The FBI does not estimate data for jurisdictions that do not report their data.
But just shy of 1,000 more agencies reported to the bureau for 2017 data than did for the previous year.