Hate crimes in New York City were stubbornly flat in 2017, sustaining almost all of 2016’s double digit election year increase and hovering about 9 percent above the decade average. Even with the slight 1.7 percent dip from 345 to 339, 2017 remains the fourth highest year for hate crime in the city since 2002, as various targeted groups like Jews, African-Americans and Muslims experienced significant increases in attacks. In contrast, crime overall in the city is down to levels not seen since the 1950s, with a 5.4 percent drop last year alone, the fourth consecutive annual decrease in a row.
New York, owing to its size, reports the most hate crimes of any city in country, but its final numbers also buck the trend of other large cities like Philadelphia; Washington, D.C., Seattle and Phoenix that are heading for significant increases, as those places await completed tallies. Previously, hate crimes in the city rose 12.4 percent in 2016; much more than the 4.6 percent national rise, propelled by a massive spike in the weeks following the presidential election. For the nation as a whole, the election time fourth quarter of 2016 saw a 26 percent spike from the previous year and had the highest number of hate crimes since 2008. New York City also experienced a precipitous increase following election day 2016.
Over two thirds of hate crimes last year in the city were almost evenly split between Brooklyn, the most populated borough and Manhattan, the most crowded. About 60 percent of New York City hate crime in 2017 targeted religion, as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes rose by double digits. The most frequent targets for hate crime in New York in 2017 were Jews, Gays, Muslims, and African-Americans, with all except Gays experiencing large increases. In comparison, the five most frequently targeted groups nationally were African-Americans, Gays, Whites, Jews and Latinos in 2016. About two in three 2017 New York hate crimes were property damage or harassment, while around 20 percent were assaults.
Anti-Semitic & Anti-Muslim Cases Hit Multi-Year Highs And Account for Over Half of All NYC Hate Crime
The 150 anti-Semitic hate crimes in 2017 accounted for 44 percent of the city’s overall annual tally, despite the fact that Jews account for only 18 percent of the city’s population. Anti-Semitic hate crime rose ten percent in 2017, for the third straight annual increase. New York City, home to more than 1.5 million Jews, has the largest concentration of them of any city in the world, with slightly over one quarter of American Jews residing in New York State alone. Of the nation’s largest cities with 2017 breakdowns, Jews were consistently among the top three most targeted groups, and they topped preliminary tallies in Chicago and in Philadelphia as well, where they were tied with African-Americans.
In 2016, the latest year with national police data, anti-Semitic hate crimes rose three percent and twenty percent of those crimes occurred just in New York City according to the FBI. Jews accounted for 11 percent of all hate crimes nationally and slightly over half of all religious based hate crime in 2016. Jews constitute only about two percent of the American population. Anti-Jewish hate crimes are down nationally over the last decade, but have seen an upsurge more recently. A wave of over 150 bomb threats mostly emanating from Israel early last year contributed to increases in many places. Even as groups like the Anti-Defamation League have shown increases in anti-Semitic “incidents,” including non-criminal ones, in their data over recent periods, they also show a decrease in assaults and shifts of bigotry to the Internet.
Hate crimes against Muslims in New York City rose as well, further reflecting a national trend of an increase in religious hate crime. Anti-Muslim hate crime rose 16 percent in the city, from 31 to 36 incidents, the second consecutive increase. Nationally anti-Muslim hate crimes almost doubled from 2014 to 2016 according to the FBI, as both assaults, and their proportion of victims surged, though numerically anti-Semitic hate crime is still the most prevalent type of faith-based hate crime. In 2016, Muslims constituted 5 percent of all hate crime victims in the U.S., but in New York in 2017, they were the third most frequent target at 11 percent of all hate crimes citywide. Reflecting a trend seen in many major cities, hate crimes were three times as likely to be committed on the basis of religion in New York, as they were in the nation as a whole as religion-based attacks become more common.
Non-Religion Hate Crime
The Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual community were the second most frequently targeted group last year with 45 incidents, or 13 percent of the total despite a significant decline of 41 percent from the previous year. Anti-African-American attacks rose from 18 to 33, after experiencing a similar decline the previous year. The city’s sole hate homicide was the horrific March sword slashing murder of a 66 year old African-American man, Timothy Caughman, who was randomly attacked in Manhattan by a Maryland white supremacist.
While it’s too early to forecast what the precise national trend for 2017 will be, one thing is certain, in many of the nation’s largest cities like New York, hate crimes remain elevated with Jews, Gays, Blacks and Muslims being the most frequent target as hate crimes.
Hate Crime in New York City By Targeted Group
ASIAN 6 /8
OTHER 17/ 13
SEMITIC 150/ 136
SEXUAL ORIENTATION 45/76
Grand Total 339/ 345
Brian Levin, a former NYPD officer and Stanford Law graduate, is the director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, where he teaches criminal justice.