Saturday, July 4, 2015

Our Nation's Capital Has The Highest Reported Concentration Of Hate Crimes AND Hate Groups

I'm digging into FBI hate crime statistics, and I've already discovered something shocking to me. For the last year we have complete records, 2013, the state-by-state rates of hate crime don't match up to what we've been seeing on the news. None of the top 10 states are in the former Confederacy. And South Carolina comes in near the bottom.

Below is the list of states with the number of hate crimes per 100,000 people (Hawaii wasn't included in their list).

District of Columbia 11.14
North Dakota 7.06
Massachusetts 5.39
New Jersey 4.65
Washington 4.18
Connecticut 4.07
Kentucky 3.95
Ohio 3.57
Michigan 3.38
West Virginia 3.35
Nevada 3.27
New York 3.15
Montana 3.10
Tennessee 3.02
Minnesota 2.94
Oregon 2.87
Utah 2.60
Colorado 2.48
Arizona 2.44
Kansas 2.40
Nebraska 2.38
California 2.20
Idaho 1.99
Vermont 1.92
Maine 1.88
Indiana 1.86
New Hampshire 1.78
South Dakota 1.69
Missouri 1.69
Virginia 1.44
New Mexico 1.35
Delaware 1.30
North Carolina 1.20
Alaska 1.09
South Carolina 1.07
Oklahoma 1.06
Arkansas 0.96
Wisconsin 0.88
Maryland 0.86
Illinois 0.86
Georgia 0.73
Louisiana 0.68
Rhode Island 0.67
Alabama 0.52
Pennsylvania 0.51
Texas 0.50
Florida 0.39
Iowa 0.34
Mississippi 0.27
Wyoming 0.17

The rates are based on the number of incidents and the populations covered as reported by individual law enforcement agencies to the FBI. That's key, and it could distort the numbers. Also the FBI discourages people against ranking locales and agencies for a variety of reasons, some of which seem reasonable, and some of which seem like they're trying to cover their asses. (So yeah, I'm doing exactly what they're telling me not to do.) Here's a copy of their table, and this is a copy showing how I calculated the rate per 100,000.

What's going on? Why do these numbers completely clash with our picture of hate crimes in America? Is this a fault of how the statistics are compiled - of what they leave out - or something we don't get about hate crimes? I'm going to crunch the numbers for other years to see if the trends hold up and try to figure out what's going on in the states where the numbers are highest and lowest. We need a better understanding of how and why hate crimes happen, and I think this mismatch is a good place to start.

Some things that are clear, and easy to understand.

Of the 2013 hate crimes, 49.3 percent were targeted because of race, 20.2 were targeted because of sexual orientation, and 16.9 percent were targeted because of religion.

Two thirds (66.5 percent) of the racially-motivated hate crimes were anti-African American.
Almost all (98 percent) of the hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation were motivated by hatred of gay or bisexual people, with some crimes including an additional hatred of transgender people.
Sixty percent of religious hate crimes were motivated by hatred of Jews, and 14 percent were motivated by hatred of Muslims.

In the coming year you're going to continue to hear people on the right complain that the "real victims" of discrimination are straight, white, Christian men. That's not, and never has been, true.

UPDATE: The Southern Poverty Law Center has a state-by-state map of active hate groups. I've compared the numbers of these groups to population to come up with a similar per capita ranking. Yes, I'm comparing apples and oranges. But I want to see if two different methodologies show any overlap. And they do - The nation's capital is the number one, by a wide margin, on both lists. New Jersey and West Virginia both rank in the top 10. There's a lot to investigate here. We'll have more.

Here are the states, with the number of hate groups per 100,000 people (by 2013 US Census figures).

District of Columbia 2.48
Montana 0.89
Mississippi 0.74
Arkansas 0.68
Vermont 0.64
Idaho 0.62
West Virginia 0.49
South Dakota 0.47
New Hampshire 0.45
New Jersey 0.45
Tennessee 0.45
Delaware 0.43
South Carolina 0.40
Nebraska 0.37
Alabama 0.37
Kentucky 0.36
Virginia 0.33
Louisiana 0.32
Missouri 0.31
Pennsylvania 0.30
Oklahoma 0.29
Colorado 0.28
Georgia 0.28
North Dakota 0.28
Florida 0.26
Maryland 0.25
North Carolina 0.24
Indiana 0.24
Arizona 0.24
Ohio 0.23
Oregon 0.23
New York 0.22
Nevada 0.22
Massachusetts 0.19
Wisconsin 0.17
Wyoming 0.17
Illinois 0.16
Michigan 0.15
Maine 0.15
California 0.15
Minnesota 0.15
New Mexico 0.14
Washington 0.14
Utah 0.14
Texas 0.14
Kansas 0.10
Rhode Island 0.10
Connecticut 0.08
Iowa 0.06

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  1. In Vermont we have four hate groups, apparently. Looking into it I find that one (Aryan Nations LA) is located in Norton, a town of 214 people on the Canadian border. The town clerk, who has lived there since childhood, was interviewed and said she'd never heard of them. My guess is that this one is like the Popular Front for Judea from Monty Python's Life of Brian: "He's over there." Likewise, the oddly named Creativity Alliance in Middlebury hasn't shown up on police logs. They maintain a P.O. box. Again, "He's over there."

    There were 20 hate crime incidents in VT between 2003 and 2012, the last of which was graffiti spray painted on a wall. Not exactly Charleston.

    There are six hate groups in NH, two of which are categorized as "Radical Traditional Catholicism."

    The problem with a purely numerical analysis like this is that it doesn't distinguish between interpersonal violence (a beating, a shooting) and some random drunk with a spray can. Nor does it distinguish between an active group of armed nutjobs and some aging crank who mails in his dues to Louisiana and yells at his TV.

    Membership numbers for these groups are hard to come by, probably because they are embarrassingly small, but that would be vital for a meaningful analysis. Likewise, some kind of differentiation between graffiti and gunfire. A tough assignment, I'll admit.

    The variety in D.C. is interesting, though. If you look on the SPLC's state by state map, you'll find that four out of the 16 are "Black Separatist" and three are "pro-family" lobbying groups (anti-LGBT). Four are semi-camouflaged white nationalist groups like the "Council for Social and Economic Studies" (how respectable sounding!). I'd be interested in your take on the diverse assembly of small-mindedness in our nation's capitol.

    1. That's a good point. My plan is to go back to the FBI stats, find the upper and lower states, and dig into the specifics. The FBI did differentiate. A large chunk of the DC crimes, for example, as assaults on gay and trans people. It's completely out of sync with the national average, but it makes me wonder if it's completely out of sync with other CITIES in the nation.

  2. Quick question- is it related to reportage? In areas where a hate crime victim is less likely to expect an adequate response from authorities, they are less likely to report hate crimes in the first place. Washington D.C could skew towards large numbers in hate crimes for the LBGT community due to
    1. A larger LBGT community compared to other cities
    2. A significant number of this community being well educated in their civil rights
    3. LBGT community resources like advisory groups willing and able to back up claims
    4. A willingness of local police forces to take hate crimes seriously
    These can make it appear that there is a higher hate crime rate, when it is really a case that people will report them because it is safe to!

    1. Those are good points too. I'm going to focus on hate crimes against the LBGT community, and crunch cities vs. states. I wonder how to tackle reporting rates, but I bet someone out there has done it.


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