Hate crimes in America rose 17 percent last year, the third consecutive year that such crimes increased, according to newly released FBI data.

Law enforcement agencies reported 7,175 hate crimes occurred in 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016. That increase was fueled in part by more police departments reporting hate crimes data to the FBI, but overall there is still a large number of departments that report no hate crimes to the federal database.

More than half of such crimes, about three out of every five, targeted a person’s race or ethnicity, while about one out of five targeted their religion.

Of the more than 7,000 incidents reported last year, 2,013 targeted black Americans, while 938 targeted Jewish Americans. Incidents targeting people for their sexual orientation accounted for 1,130 hate crimes, according to the FBI.

The FBI has urged local police departments to provide more complete information about hate crimes in their jurisdictions.

Despite the national trend, federally reported hate crimes in Maine have fallen over the last decade, according to FBI data. In 2008, 63 hate crimes were reported through the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report process. In 2017, 32 cases were recorded, with intervening years showing a general downward trend in reported hate crimes.


It wasn’t clear Tuesday whether the data includes all hate crimes reported in Maine or why the state appeared to be bucking the national trend based on the FBI numbers.

Of the more than 7,000 hate crime incidents reported nationwide in 2017, more than 4,000 were crimes against people, ranging from threats and intimidation to assault, to murder. More than 3,000 were crimes against property, ranging from vandalism to robbery to arson.

Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker said the new figures are “a call to action — and we will heed that call. 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.”

Whitaker said he was “particularly troubled by the increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes,” which are already the most common type of religious hate crime in the United States.

Anti-Semitic hate crimes rose 37 percent in 2017. Anti-Islamic hate crimes declined 11 percent last year, with 273 such incidents, the data show.

Staff Writer Matt Byrne contributed to this story.

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