SEATTLE — The FBI says hate crimes are on the rise in Seattle, nearly doubling from 2016 to 2017.
The FBI issues an annual report on hate crimes across the country, and nationally, they are on the rise, with an increase of 17 percent.
But the rise in Seattle’s rise in hate crime is even more disturbing.
The FBI reported 234 suspected hate crimes last year in Seattle, compared to 118 in 2016. More than half of those reported were racially motivated.
"This uptick, one of the largest upticks in the history of hate crime reporting, gives us and other civil rights organizations grave concern,” said George Salim with the Anti-Defamation League.
Washington State had the third highest amount of hate crimes per capita, trailing Kentucky and Washington, DC. It’s the second consecutive year the state has been third.
Nationally, anti-Jewish crimes were the largest number of incidents, followed by anti-Muslim crimes, according to the FBI.
KIRO7 sat down with the FBI’s Seattle branch Wednesday. The organization says it doesn't analyze the data or provide insight on why there's a spike, but wants to assure the community it's paying attention.
“Hate crimes continue to be a top priority for the FBI,” said Michael Paul, the acting special agent in charge at the Seattle branch. “Here, naturally there's concern because this is a diverse community and we take the protection of civil rights – it’s very important, a top priority for us,” he said.
KIRO7’s Deedee Sun combed through the FBI data on hate crimes for the past 10 years and found nationally, reported hate crimes have generally been on a downward trend since 2007.
Then it starts ticking back up in 2015, and there’s a big spike between 2016 and 2017.
Local vulnerabe groups say they've noticed.
“We get more and more phone calls and emails, people who feel afraid, people who've experienced some form of hate or discrimination,” said Elayne Wylie, with Seattle’s Gender Justice League.
“Why do you think there is such a big increase,” KIRO7’s Deedee Sun asked.
“The rhetoric that is infecting every part of the nation, around who is allowed to be an American, who is on the ‘ok’ list has narrowed,” Wylie said.
Seattle’s immigrant and refugee advocacy group OneAmerica agrees national politics are playing a role.
“Our demographics not only in Seattle, but in south King County are changing, and that is potentially creating fear,” Roxana Norouzi with OneAmerica said. “What we're hearing from people in the highest levels of leadership is division,” she said.
For Auburn hate crime victim, DaShawn Horne, his family says the new statistics are alarming.
“There’s not enough being done, definitely not enough,” said LaDonna Horne, DaShawn’s mom.
He's still healing from a traumatic brain injury.
In January, prosecutors say Julian Tuimauga beat DaShawn in the head with an aluminum baseball bat after DaShawn spent the night with his sister.
The attack left him in a coma for seven weeks.
His family is speaking out against the trend of rising hate.
And say stopping it will take individuals like you and me to step up when we see something.
“Stand against hate crime. We have to make a stand against it,” LaDonna said. “You see something happening? Get involved,” she said.
The FBI also says more agencies nationwide are reporting hate crimes to its organization, which could be contributing towards some of the spike.
The Department of Justice says 54 percent of hate crimes go unreported to police.
KIRO 7 also looked at the Seattle Police Department’s bias crime tracker, which shows if the trend continues, 2018 could surpass last year’s numbers.
Police say Capitol Hill is the Seattle neighborhood where the most bias crimes happen.
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