Nation sees increase in hate crimes

By: Lauren Coleman

Updated:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports the number of hate crimes in the United States increased last year from the year before. 

More than half of the crimes were motivated by bias towards race. 

Out of more than 6,000 criminal incidents reported: 

  • 57.5-percent were motivated by a race, ethnicity or ancestry bias. 
  • 21-percent were motivated by religious bias 
  • 17.7-percent were motivated by sexual orientation bias. 

Terri Freeman, President of the National Civil Rights Museum said she’s sadly not surprised by the numbers. 

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“The tenor of our country right now is possibly as divisive as it ever has been and I think that we are at a point where we’re far more focused on what’s different than on those thing that are similar,” Freeman said. 

She said several major events that have recently happened in the country highlight the lack of tolerance for others. 

“When you see incidents like Charlottesville occur, not too long ago in Tennessee we had the white supremacists, white nationalist marching,” Freeman said. “When you see hate crimes in churches occurring like in Charlotte and in Nashville.” 

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, a total of 257 individual victims were reported with a known bias motivation in the offense last year. 

Freeman said the museum is constantly working to decrease these numbers. 

The museum is currently holding a six-month dialogue series called “Unpacking Racism for Action.” 

“And it really is about a diverse community of people,” Freeman said. “A cohort of people who applied to be a part of this program to learn more about implicit biases, their own implicit biases as well as structural racism.” 

The program began in September and will run through March of 2018. 

Freeman said depending on the success of the program, the museum hopes to offer the series annually.  

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