There is a trend of hate crimes on the rise in U.S. cities with many groups of marginalized people being targeted.
On November 6, 2019, a presentation was held on campus about the trend of hate crimes on the rise, according to a study done by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. The presentation was organized by one of the authors of the hate crime study, Brian Levin, a professor of criminal justice at CSUSB. Levin has also written various articles and journals on the subjects of hate crimes and extremism and has even testified before both houses of Congress on the subjects.
The presentation given showcased former FBI agent Cynthia Deitle, who served as a member of the FBI in the Civil Rights Unit for over 20 years, and now helps with the Matthew Shepard Foundation. She shared her experiences as not only a woman in the FBI but as a member of the LGBTQAI community as well.
Levin asked Dietle about her experiences in the FBI Civil Rights Unit, and if she had ever experienced any feeling of discrimination due to her sexual orientation. Deitle went on to explain that she did come across some discrimination during her time in the FBI, but she felt it was due to the fact that it was a different era in terms of civil rights.
“My wife and I would often hold hands in the office, and it did not matter who saw us if there were straight couples kissing, why couldn’t we show affection either? We did not let the stares stop us from showing affection to each other,” Deitle said.
Levin referenced the hate crime study often during this event, stating that the study showed a trend in the rise of hate crimes in a lot of major U.S. cities. Using the data the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism collected, in 2017, there was an apparent rise in the number of hate crimes reported to the police in America’s largest cities by twelve percent.
The data collected in 2017 also signified the fourth consecutive annual rise in a row in the United States and the highest total in over a decade. According to the FBI collected data in 2016, the biggest groups targeted by hate crimes nationally were African-Americans, LGBTQAI, Whites, Jews, Latinos, and Muslims.
Levin asked Deitle during the presentation of this study if she had noticed an increase of reported hate crimes among Muslim groups in New York as she was stationed there during the events that took place on September 11, 2001.
“Honestly there were not many reports of hate crimes against Muslims while I was in New York. There might have been maybe three or four. When a tragedy of this scale happens, I believe people come together, it unites them, and it creates this sense of camaraderie,” Deitle said.
The number of reported hate crimes may have risen nationally, but the study showed that locally, they had decreased from 2016 to 2017.
In Riverside, for example, the number of reported hate crimes saw a decrease of 33%, from 9 reported hate crimes in 2016 to 6 in 2017. The decrease can also be seen in the city of San Bernardino, from a reported 9 in 2016 to 5 in 2017.
Fellow CSUSB student Jeffrey Bongga comments on how he feels lucky enough to not have been part of the hate crime statistic but recognizes not everyone is as lucky.
“Because I’m a bigger dude and I don’t necessarily present that much as LGBTQ as some other people, that’s a privilege that I have so when I do walk around I won’t have that type of fear,” said Bongga.
Although Levin discussed how LGBTQAI groups were targeted by hate crimes, the study showed that in 2016, one of the biggest motivators for bias remains to be race and ethnicity, reported to make up 57.5% of the hate crimes reported in 2016, according to the FBI.
Deitle gave some words of encouragement to the students of CSUSB attending the event, on how they can make a difference in their communities.
“Always say something when you see something that is not right, no matter how small the incident, even if it’s name calling. As soon as we start helping each other and showing others that this kind of behavior won’t be accepted, the sooner we can start moving towards a better future,” said Deitle.