Since the election of Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Trumpenführer, to the White House, hate crimes nationwide have increased as Trump has continued to signal that racism and bigotry are acceptable behavior. Curiously, in Virginia, for 2016, hate crimes are actually down notwithstanding the fact that they increased across the rest of the nation as a whole. As to why such is the case, there seem to be no obvious answer although I suspect that some might point to the messaging from the governor's mansion that Virginia is accepting and open to all. On November 7, 2017, Virginians strongly rejected the Gillespie/Adams/Vogel ticket's call to racism and bigotry. A piece in the Daily Press looks at the phenomenon. Here are excerpts:
While hate crimes are up about five percent nationally, the number of hate crimes in Virginia decreased about 12 percent. That’s according to the FBI’s 2016 hate crime statistics released this week. The data comes from the Uniform Crime Reporting Program — a system by which law enforcement collects crime data. About 15,200 agencies participated in the Hate Crime Statistics Program last year.
FBI and Virginia’s data shows hate crimes predominantly were driven by racial bias. Virginia lists religion and sexual orientation as the next most common motivators; vice versa for the FBI. Anti-black, anti-white, anti-Jewish and anti-gay (male) were the four most frequent types of hate crimes around the nation.
Experts quickly warn against jumping to conclusions. Virginia law recognizes hate crimes that target someone’s race, religion or national origin. That leaves out sexual orientation, gender and disability.
In other words, if a woman presumed her car was vandalized because of her gender identity, local police would only investigate the vandalism. The case would be turned over to a federal agency to investigate, said Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.
“They’re going to investigate that, obviously they can prosecute that, but they can’t call it a hate crime if it’s outside those areas in Virginia law,” Schrad said.
“It’s a social justice issue, so I think folks would have to go to the General Assembly and say we have evidence of these hate crimes but we have to go to feds to prosecute because we don’t have an avenue in the state system,” Schrad said.
The data only reflects incidents in 2016, and only covers crimes — not hate incidents.
The Anti-Defamation League, which keeps its own data, reported a 67 percent uptick in anti-semitic incidents between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2017, and the same time period last year. Anti-LGBTQ homicides rose by 17 percent between 2015 and 2016, according to a report released by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. There were 1,036 incidents of hate violence reported, the majority of which targeted people who identified as gay, below the age of 39 or were people of color.
Doron Ezickson, regional director for the ADL, advocated for consistent legislation across the country, and more training for police and prosecutors. And, Vecchietti said, a move away from victim blaming.
“When we talk about greater prevalence rate it's not like the nature of the individual that’s the problem,” Vecchietti said. “It’s the culture that's the problem.” Hate crimes don’t just target an individual, Ezickson said. They target and seek to silence an entire community.