Hate crimes in Massachusetts rose by nearly 10% in 2019, according to new data released by the FBI Monday.
The commonwealth reported 388 hate crimes last year, up from 352 in 2018. Massachusetts had 427 hate crimes in 2017, the highest in 15 years.
Like the country as a whole, most Massachusetts hate crimes were race-based, accounting for 202 incidents. The state reported 88 hate crimes based on religion and 86 based on sexual orientation. Each of those figures is higher than they were in 2018.
Though hate crime rates in the state have generally trended upward in recent years, they are well below those of the early 2000s. Massachusetts saw over 400 hate crimes each year between 2000 and 2003, topping off at 584 in 2001.
While hate crimes didn’t peak last year in Massachusetts, it’s a different story nationally. There were 7,314 reported across the country last year, the highest in over a decade. That includes a rise in hate crimes against Jewish and Hispanic people, while hate crimes against Black people dropped very slightly.
2019 also saw the most hate-motivated murders since the FBI started collecting data in the ’90s. The year saw 51 hate-motivated killings, which include the 22 people killed in the El Paso Walmart shooting that targeted Mexicans.
While the FBI’s hate crime data can illustrate general trends, the dataset is imperfect and incomplete. It relies on voluntary reporting by police agencies, and not every jurisdiction labels hate crimes in the same way or offers the same protections to marginalized groups. Most agencies don’t report any data to the FBI, and the number participating in the program actually decreased last year.
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