An Increase in Hate Crimes Expected to Cast Shadow Over 2024 Election Season


With the 2024 election fast approaching and presidential campaign season shifting into high gear, analysts are casting a wary eye toward a potential uptick in hate crimes. Statistics show an “unmistakable pattern” of reported hate crimes spiking during presidential elections, according to a report from the FBI.

            “What it shows is an extremely disturbing and sadly not so surprising trend,” said Leadership Conference Education Fund CEO Maya Wiley.

            The Leadership Conference Education Fund’s report, “Cause for Concern 2024: The State of Hate,” highlights an upward trend in hate crimes since 2014, observing that hate crimes escalate around the times of presidential elections. It is a pattern seen consistently during the previous four election periods and although not all hate crimes or incidents are the work of white supremacists, these groups have shown significant activity during the past four national elections. 

            The report further asserts that the current environment—with prevalent hate speech and the inability of social media platforms to efficiently combat disinformation—provides ample opportunities for the upward trend of hate crimes to persist into the 2024 election, unless preventative measures are implemented. 

            In fact, hate crimes have increased at a staggering rate of more than 80%, and the data also revealed that 2021 had the highest number of reported hate crimes on record since the FBI began recording these statistics in 1991. 

            Making matters worse is the highly charged candidacy of Donald Trump, given that the former president has empowered white nationalists and provided them with a platform —one the report contends they had been seeking with renewed intensity since the historic election of Barack Obama in 2008. 

            Known for his polarizing rhetoric, Trump’s political maneuverings could potentially exacerbate societal divisions, leading to an upsurge in hostility and aggression. His often controversial comments about various racial, religious, and social groups have been linked to increases in hate crimes during his tenure.

            “When Mr. Trump says something through social media or at his rallies that deprecates another person names another person, those people then get threatened. They get threatened with violence,” states Mary McCord, legal director at the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection.

            The groups expected to be most affected by this potential surge in hate crimes are those frequently targeted due to their race, religion, sexual orientation, or other identity markers. These include individuals from Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Jewish communities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and immigrants. These groups have historically been the primary targets of hate crimes and may bear the brunt of any election-induced increases in such incidents.

            In L.A. County, three-quarters of hate crimes committed in the span of the last two years were violent, with Black and Jewish residents disproportionately represented among the victims, according to another report. Anti-Black hate crimes rose by 34%, while Anti-Jewish crimes spiked by 59%

            “Nearly every race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion have been targeted for hate crime in our county,” Robin Toma, executive director of the Commission on Human Relations, said at a recent news conference.

            Since October, there have been 20 religious hate crimes reported, all anti-Jewish hate crimes. That number is part of a 59% increase in all anti-Jewish hate crimes, a record high in more than a decade. That staggering statistic continues on the other side, with anti-Arab hate crimes seeing a 160% uptick in reported cases. 

            “At a time of increased anti-Semitism, these acts have understandably set communities on edge—we will fight this hatred vigorously and work every day to defeat it,” Mayor Bass remarked. Seventy-two percent of hate crimes reported this year were deemed violent, the highest in 22 years, and since 2022, 800 hate crimes have been reported in the county, bringing a total of 2,700 hate crimes, according to a report. 

            “Hate crimes since the start of this year through October had decreased by 9% even though people don’t report hate crimes at the rate that they should,” Sherriff Robert Luna said. 

District Attorney George Gascón denounced any notion that his office would turn a blind eye toward the uptick of hate crimes, 

            “L.A. County will never tolerate hate crimes, and those who commit these crimes will be aggressively prosecuted if caught. I want to repeat that— will be aggressively prosecuted if caught. My office has and will continue to follow any reported hate crimes.”

            Some fear that any potential spike in hate crimes could have significant implications for election turnout as fear of violence or hostility can deter individuals from voting especially among those targeted communities. 

            “We do see a difference when leaders speak out, we do see a difference when we support communities coming together and getting to know each other,” Wiley said. “We can do that in advance of the election cycle so that we can try to change this devastating, historic trend,” she added.

            To that end, experts advocate that public officials speak out against hate and that Congress mandate hate crime data collection and reporting. Additionally, social media platforms must invest in de-platforming hate for the upcoming local, state, and national elections, and finally, the federal government must confront and address white supremacist violence without further criminalizing communities of color, religious minorities, and other marginalized communities. 

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