Washington Week

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After Charlottesville, a glance at hate crime and hate groups in the United States

By Halima Gikandi

President Donald Trump’s controversial responses to the deadly events in Charlottesville, Virginia following a white supremacist rally have refocused attention on the prevalence of hate groups and hate crimes in the United States.

Some watchdog groups and local agencies have recorded a ‘surge’ in hate crimes since the 2016 election in November, and have drawn connections to the president’s campaign rhetoric.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) documented nearly 900 reported hate incidents in the ten days following president Trump’s election, and the Anti-Defamation League found an 86 percent spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the beginning of 2017.




But accurately reporting and tracking hate crimes nationwide continues to challenge federal agencies, which are mandated by the 1990 Hate Crime Statistics Act to collect data on hate crimes.

In recent months, legislators across party lines have stepped in to address the prevalence of hate crimes and the issue of adequate reporting. 

On April 5, the Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that, along with calling for law enforcements to better investigate hate crimes, encourages improving agencies’ data collection.

In addition, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has opened a federal investigation into Charlottesville, has created a subcommittee focused on hate crime prevention in the Justice Department’s new crime reduction task force.