New hate crime statistics released this week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation show a slight decrease in the proportion of anti-LGB hate crimes in Charlotte and North Carolina. The numbers reflect a national trend some LGBT advocates say is a sign of improvement, but those same numbers show a significant increase in the number of race-related and anti-Muslim hate crimes in the city and the state.
The total proportion of anti-LGB hate crimes in North Carolina fell from 19.5 percent in 2013 to 16.4% in 2014. A more significant decrease occurred in Charlotte, where anti-LGB hate crimes fell from 28 percent two years ago to 20 percent last year.
The local and state trend follows a national pattern. Incidents motivated by sexual orientation bias fell 11 percent nationally from 2013 to 2014. The new numbers also come with more in-depth reporting, with a three-percent boost in the number of participating law enforcement agencies.
But it’s not all good news. Incidents motivated by gender-identity bias increased from 0.5 percent in 2013 to 1.6 percent in 2014, representing a 220 percent increase over the previous year. There were no incidents motivated by gender-identity bias in North Carolina in either 2013 or 2014. Widespread violence against transgender people has been an increasing concern for transgender advocates and their allies. At least 23 trans individuals have been murdered this year in the U.S. alone.
Transgender community members and their allies will mourn their siblings’ losses on Friday, during the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. (If you’re in Charlotte, details on your local event are here.)
The Matthew Shepard Foundation says the decrease in reported anti-LGB incidents and increase in participating agencies are “small signs of improvement.” They’re encouraging more agencies to participate and for victims of hate crimes to report the incidents.
“It is encouraging to see a few hundred more law enforcement agencies participating in the reporting of hate crimes this year and a small drop in the number of hate crimes reported overall,” Judy Shepard, co-founder and president of the foundation named in her son’s memory, said in a statement. “However, when more than 3,000 law enforcement agencies did not participate in hate crimes incident reporting in 2014, that is a problem. Several departments that did file reports reported zero incidents across the board—I find that outcome difficult to believe.”
Shepard added, “We need the victims of these crimes to report to better trained law enforcement agencies that are supported and encouraged by a tougher federal effort to gather this information. If we’re ever going to prevent these crimes from occurring, we need the data to understand the issues and that needs to be our number one focus.”
Race-related, anti-Muslim incidents on rise
While anti-LGB incidents seem to be on the decrease, incidents motivated by racial bias are increasing in North Carolina and Charlotte.
Statewide, the proportion of race-related hate crimes rose from 56.7 percent in 2013 to 60.7 percent in 2014. In Charlotte, a more marked increase was observed, with race-related incidents rising from 38 percent to 55 percent.
The new data showing race-related increases comes as the country continues to debate a variety of race-related topics, including racial profiling, police brutality and white supremacist violence. Just last week, the FBI arrested three Virginia men accused of plotting to start a “race war” by attacking black churches and synagogues. Earlier this year, local communities were rocked by what seemed like a string of arsons at black churches.
National data also points to a rise in hate crimes targeting Muslims. In the past two weeks, anti-Muslim fervor has grown at a fever pitch, as several governors and leading Republican candidates for president have called for President Barack Obama to stop welcoming refugees from Syria’s civil war.