Hate crimes will likely spike during 2024 election, civil rights group warns
Author: Daniel Villarreal
A national civil rights group has warned that hate crimes will likely spike during the 2024 presidential election, just as they have during each of the last four presidential elections.
The group, the Leadership Conference Education Fund (LCEF), analyzed FBI hate crime data over the last 15 years and published their findings in a recent report.
The report found that during the 2008 election season, attacks against racial and ethnic minorities spiked — especially as white nationalist and anti-government groups saw then-candidate Barack Obama poised to become the nation’s first Black president. In 2013, during and immediately following Obama’s re-election campaign, the number of hate crime victims increased by nearly 6.6%, according to data from the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Hate crimes increased to a four-year high during the 2016 election campaign of Donald Trump. Once he took office in 2017, hate crimes reached their highest levels in nine years. This included attacks against people perceived as Middle Eastern and Muslim following Trump’s “Muslim ban” as well as the 49 mostly Hispanic LGBTQ+ people and allies slaughtered in the Pulse nightclub shooting.
In 2020, hate crimes reached an 11-year high amid a violent backlash to the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests and the blaming of COVID-19 on China, the report said.
The most recently available FBI data shows that reported hate crimes are now the highest they’ve ever been since the FBI began tracking such data in 1991, the report added. Leading into 2024, the LCEF worries that political attacks on anti-racist education and LGBTQ+ “groomers” will result in even more hate-motivated attacks.
“From the mainstreaming of hate and the failure of social media platforms to adequately address disinformation, the current climate is rife with opportunities for the trend of increased hate to continue into the 2024 election,” the report stated, “unless action is taken.”
A four-point plan to prevent a rise in hate crime attacks
To help counteract such violence during the upcoming election season, the LCEF asked public officials to refrain from and speak out against hate speech. The LCEF also suggested that social media platforms invest in content moderation teams to de-platform sources of hate — even if those sources are political candidates or advertisements.
Additionally, the LCEF said that the federal government should confront and address white supremacist violence through existing civil rights infrastructure and not through federal anti-terrorism agencies, which have historically criminalized already marginalized communities.
The LCEF also called on Congress to mandate hate crime data collection, requiring all law enforcement agencies to report such data to the DOJ or FBI. As of 2023, 32 U.S. states have laws requiring state and local legal agencies to report hate crime data to the FBI and DOJ; 18 states do not.
“Because law enforcement agencies do not have to report any data on hate crimes to the FBI, [the most recent data] is not the full picture,” the LCEF’s report said. “Even though the most recent data show the highest number of reported hate crimes on record, we know the reality is far worse.”
The LCEF is the research and education arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the nation’s oldest and largest civil and human rights coalition of more than 230 national organizations.
The conference’s coalition includes the LGBTQ+ organizations Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN, Lambda Legal, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, the National Centers for Lesbian Rights and Transgender Equality, PFLAG, the Trevor Project, and also groups representing educators, faith groups, immigrants, people of color, reproductive rights advocates, and workers unions.
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Author: Daniel Villarreal