The FBI released some concerning data last week about the number of reported hate crimes in America. According to the FBI, there has been a sharp increase in hate crimes against Muslims, and hate crimes in general are also on the rise.
The data suggests that there were 5,850 reported hate crimes in America last year, up almost seven percent from 2014 when there were 5,479 such crimes. The data for 2016 won’t be released until later next year, but we’ve had a pretty tumultuous year, and when you add in the escapades of some individuals before and after the election, it would not be surprising at all to learn that there was another spike in hate crimes in America in 2016.
However, while hate crimes appear to be on the rise on a national scale, Illinois is working hard to buck the trend. According to local statistics, the number of reported hate crimes in 2013 was 109, and that fell to 90 in 2014. Even more impressively, that number fell greatly to 59 reported hate crimes in 2015.
Examining The Data
A closer look at the data suggests hate crimes in the suburbs have really dropped off over the decade. No one suburb outside of North Chicago had more than two reported hate crimes in 2015. You can take a look at the full data here.
Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said that Illinois has done a good job preaching a message of zero tolerance for hate crimes across the state.
“With hate crimes, I believe the community sets the tone for the behaviors that are tolerated. I have to believe (and it’s just a belief) that the zero-tolerance message we send out about hatred and intolerance is causal for there being such low incidents.”
However, she did mention that a number of hate crimes go unreported. So while it’s encouraging that the number of reported hate crimes in Illinois has bucked national trends, that doesn’t mean there were just 59 incidents in Illinois last year. It will be interesting to see if the number of reported hate crimes increases due to some of the social conflict we experienced in 2016, or drops because the message of zero-tolerance for hate crimes is hitting home with more people.