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FBI confirms what Seattle already knows: More hate crime reported in the city

The overflow crowd at Temple De Hirsch Sinai during Seattle’s vigil for the Tree of Life shooting victims

The FBI confirms what Seattle already knows — citizens here are reporting more and more hate crimes.

The federal agency this week released its 2017 “uniform crime reporting” statistics for reported bias crimes across the nation showing a 17% jump over 2016’s totals. But the FBI’s data for Seattle shows a much larger issue — hate crime reports nearly doubled in the city in 2017 with reports of religious bias up a whopping 275%:

“The FBI’s Seattle Field Office serves a diverse community. In the wake of the tragic events in Pittsburgh that impacted the nation, we want to assure Washingtonians that their safety and civil rights are a top priority,” Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael F. Paul of the FBI’s Seattle Field Office said in a statement on the report’s release.

“When incidents targeting protected groups occur in our community, we perform timely and meticulous reviews to determine whether bias was a motivating factor and if violation(s) of federal law occurred,” Paul said. “We continue to work diligently, in close collaboration with our law enforcement partners, to counter the intentions of those who seek to threaten, intimidate, or harm our community via bias-motivated crimes.”

Despite those assurances, the numbers corroborate trends from the Seattle Police Department’s new Bias Crime Dashboard that show that by this time next year, the FBI will have more bad news when it comes to hate in Seattle. So far in 2018, SPD has recorded 402 reported bias incidents through the end of September — 32% more than the department received during the same nine-month period in 2017:

Part of the rise is surely awareness. In 2017, CHS spoke with Detective Beth Wareing SPD’s only bias crimes detective — about the increase in reporting that has coincided with the increase in awareness around hate issues. But there are also increased concerns and more incidents to fuel the rise.

Some Seattle media report that most of the city’s bias crime reports happen in Capitol Hill’s Broadway and Pike/Pine core but that isn’t true.

Downtown’s much higher population of workers, residents, and visitors puts it over the top. Through 2017 and the first nine months of 2018, 96 bias incidents were reported in downtown Seattle vs. 86 on Capitol Hill, according to SPD. Still, the Hill’s likely per capita measures surely outweigh its neighbor across I-5.

On Capitol Hill across 2017 and 2018, SPD reports that most bias crime incidents were related to sexual orientation, followed by race. In the Central District, for comparison, the two main categories are flipped with most reports relating to racial bias incidents.

With the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, concerns about religious bias are increasing. In Seattle from 2017 through September of this year, SPD has tallied 88 reports of religious bias in the city. The incidents were mostly distributed across the city — there were 10 reported on Capitol Hill — and nearly half involved property damage like graffiti. Forty nine of the 88 reports, meanwhile, were for crimes targeting Judaism.

Here is one bit of good news in the trends. SPD says reports of anti-religious bias have dropped. There were 41 reported across Seattle in the first nine months of 2017 — in 2018, that number dropped to 25. We’ll know next year if the trend is actually good news or a blip on the way to new, sad baselines of hate and bias in Seattle and beyond.


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