Hate crimes in the US rose by 17% in 2017, the third straight year that incidents of bias-motivated attacks have grown, according to the FBI.
The data is collected from local police departments that contribute to the survey voluntarily. But not all do.
The rise in hate crimes is attributed to an increase of about 1,000 police departments that are now choosing to report these incidents, the FBI says.
The report found the surge especially affected black and Jewish Americans.
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker – who who was named by President Donald Trump last week after the sacking of Jeff Sessions – called the report a “call to action” and condemned the offences as “despicable violations of our core values as Americans”.
What did the report find?
The annual report released on Tuesday found 7,175 hate crimes across the US last year – 1,054 more than in 2016.
According to the report, 59.6% of incidents were motivated by bias against race, ethnicity or ancestry.
Crimes motivated by a victim’s religion constituted 20.6% of attacks, and crimes against a person’s sexual orientation made up 15.8%.
More on US hate crimes
The FBI definition of a hate crime is a “criminal offence against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity”.
The 2017 data notes that about 5,000 of the crimes were directed against persons through intimidation or assault, while 3,000 were against property, typically through vandalism or burglary.
Crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs were not counted prior to 2015.
There were 938 crimes against Jewish people, marking a 37% increase over 2016.
Jews have long been the highest targeted religion, as the acting attorney general noted in his statement.
Last month 11 Jews were killed by a gunman that burst into their synagogue in Pittsburgh as they prayed, marking the deadliest attack against Jews in US history. The suspect was charged with dozens of federal hate crimes.
Crimes against African Americans constituted 2,013 crimes, marking a 16% increase over the previous year.
What is the reaction?
Civil rights advocates say the numbers are vastly under-reported because of individual victims that choose not to come forward, and some police agencies that do not keep accurate statistics or do not contribute them to the study.
In his statement, Mr Whitaker said: “The Department of Justice’s top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes.”
“The American people can be assured that this department has already taken significant and aggressive actions against these crimes and that we will vigorously and effectively defend their rights,” he continued.
Source BBC News