Newspaper article

After Two Years of Declines, Reported Hate Crimes Were Up in Minnesota Last Year

Newspaper article

After Two Years of Declines, Reported Hate Crimes Were Up in Minnesota Last Year

Article excerpt

Early on a Saturday morning this month, just as members of the local Muslim community were gathering for the first prayer of the day, their Bloomington mosque was bombed.

No one was hurt, but the incident — still under investigation by the FBI, but which many suspect was driven by anti-Islamic hatred — adds to a string of incidents that have Minnesota's Muslim community on edge.

After two years of declines, hate crime incidents reported to authorities in Minnesota increased from 96 in 2015 to 122 in 2016, according to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. There were 98 reported incidents in 2014 and 154 in 2013.

By law, Minnesota police departments are required to report crimes believed to be motivated by hatred toward race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sex, age, disability or sexual orientation. The state first started collecting hate crime data, also known as bias crime, in 1989.

But because such crimes are notoriously underreported — the majority of hate crimes are missing from official data, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics — the statistics don’t tell the whole story in Minnesota.

For those hate crimes that are reported, however, the state’s data offer a picture of who perpetrates them, who's targeted, and where and how they happen.

Hate crimes in Minnesota

Most often-reported were anti-race incidents (58 victims), followed by anti-religion (30), anti-ethnicity (19) and anti-sexual orientation (15).

Victims of reported hate incidents by year, 2009-2016

The most commonly targeted groups in 2016 were African Americans and Muslims. Compared to the year prior, 2016 saw an increase in recorded anti-religion hate incidents, from 15 in 2015 to 26 in 2016.

Nearly three in ten recorded hate incidents were simple assault, an attempt to cause serious harm to another person. More than a quarter of reported incidents were vandalism, and another quarter-plus were intimidation.

2016 reported hate incidents by offense

As for the medium used in hate-motivated crimes, the most common was verbal abuse, followed by bodily harm and graffiti.

2016 reported hate crimes by situation type

Six in ten hate crime perpetrators were male and the gender of three in ten was unknown. 42 percent of offenders were white; 33 percent were of unknown race; 23 percent were black and 2 percent were Asian. The data did not include ethnicity, such as Hispanic, Latino or Arab.

2016 detailed hate crime motivation

Data is only as good as the reporting methods

Nationally, the number of hate crimes reported has also seen an uptick. In 2015, the most recent year available, the FBI reported 5,850 hate crime incidents nationally, a 7 percent increase over 2014.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that tracks hate groups, has also reported an uptick in active in hate groups. …

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