Hate Crime Statistics: The Rise of Crimes & Where Justice Needs to be Served

What we do know is that people commit violence based on prejudices related to people’s way of life or how they present themselves. The 2016 Orlando nightclub massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. and was targeted towards the LGBTQ+ community. The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in 2018 was fueled by ill motivations against Jews. This is interesting because Florida tends to have fewer acts against the people of the LGBTQ community. Likewise, there doesn’t tend to be a lot of religion-based data in Pennsylvania.

As the following hate crime statistics show, criminal justice, and victim privacy programs are severely lacking in this country. While the FBI tries to gather as much law data as possible, there are still holes left in the research. The next best thing is to identify which states and cities have the highest number of communicated incidents.

Hate Crime Statistics: Comparison Among Top 50 States

Here is an easy-to-read chart that compares the six key metrics within each of the 50 states. This makes it simpler to search for the primary issues that are the most prevalent in certain areas.

Total Rank Total Score REA Religion Sexual Orientation Disability Gender Gender Identity
CaliforniaCalifornia 48 2 596 199 239 7 4 20
WashingtonWashington 47 3 299 72 106 6 5 19
TexasTexas 46 3 314 59 50 16 3 15
MassachusettsMassachusetts 45 4 200 86 69 6 5 7
OhioOhio 44 4 218 40 54 32 2 4
New JerseyNew Jersey 43 4 308 198 53 4 1 7
MichiganMichigan 42 4 282 48 70 19 12 0
New YorkNew York 41 4 153 286 69 1 1 13
TennesseeTennessee 40 5 100 26 29 13 2 4
ArizonaArizona 39 5 95 34 37 2 2 3
KentuckyKentucky 38 5 189 16 22 3 8 2
VirginiaVirginia 37 5 85 25 23 9 1 0
North CarolinaNorth Carolina 36 5 83 27 29 3 0 0
FloridaFlorida 35 5 71 29 35 1 0 5
OregonOregon 34 5 71 16 23 2 0 8
ColoradoColorado 33 5 78 16 24 2 0 3
IndianaIndiana 32 5 75 20 11 1 2 2
MinnesotaMinnesota 31 5 72 26 25 3 0 0
South CarolinaSouth Carolina 30 5 67 28 8 2 0 6
KansasKansas 29 5 35 18 9 7 0 0
ConnecticutConnecticut 28 5 54 13 12 1 1 0
WisconsinWisconsin 27 5 26 8 14 3 0 2
IllinoisIllinois 26 5 62 20 20 0 0 6
MarylandMaryland 25 5 27 7 9 2 0 5
NebraskaNebraska 24 5 22 2 5 4 0 1
MissouriMissouri 23 5 50 3 8 2 0 1
West VirginiaWest Virginia 22 5 28 10 3 1 1 0
LouisianaLouisiana 21 5 25 13 6 0 1 0
UtahUtah 20 5 20 7 4 1 0 1
VermontVermont 19 5 30 11 3 1 0 0
MaineMaine 18 5 11 1 6 1 0 1
PennsylvaniaPennsylvania 17 5 43 19 5 0 0 0
HawaiiHawaii 16 5 33 1 10 0 0 0
NevadaNevada 15 5 15 11 8 0 0 0
IowaIowa 14 5 4 2 2 2 0 0
New MexicoNew Mexico 13 5 21 3 3 0 0 1
New HampshireNew Hampshire 12 5 7 2 3 1 0 0
GeorgiaGeorgia 11 5 28 4 3 0 0 0
Rhode IslandRhode Island 10 5 6 3 4 0 0 0
ArkansasArkansas 9 5 10 1 1 1 0 0
AlaskaAlaska 8 5 4 2 0 1 0 0
MontanaMontana 7 5 1 0 6 0 0 0
North DakotaNorth Dakota 6 5 4 3 3 0 0 0
IdahoIdaho 5 5 15 6 2 0 0 0
OklahomaOklahoma 4 5 16 1 3 0 0 0
South DakotaSouth Dakota 3 5 17 0 3 0 0 0
DelawareDelaware 2 5 13 1 2 0 0 0
MississippiMississippi 1 5 2 1 2 0 0 0

Hate Crime Statistics: Our Methodology

Our team scoured countless resources and did in-depth research to find information about laws surrounding hate and violence. After compiling all of the information, it was time to summarize the findings into an easy-to-read format. We identified six key metrics and scored them from 0 to 5. Then the average value is calculated, and the total estimations contributed to their position on this list. In addition to our research, we utilized outside sources, namely The Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Google Spreadsheet Hate Crimes Comparison [Full Report]

hate crimes review process

This Bureau receives victim data from local and federal police enforcement agencies through a national database program. Of course, the majority of incidences remain a mystery, so we also searched through data from local universities, police departments, and advocacy groups. This helped us see more hate crimes by a number of personal factors.

These incidents can be violent or non-violent, involving assault, property damage, vandalism, theft, murder, and more. Therefore, we had to carefully consider the number of incidents per bias motivation within each state and determine the proper definition of a hate crime.

1. Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry (REA)

A person’s skin color is the most common motivation for such offensive acts. Long-held prejudices and racist beliefs drive individuals (or groups) to terrorize those of a different racial or ethnic background. In the U.S., African Americans are the most likely victims of such assaults, making up just about half of all documented incidents.

2. Religion

Religious beliefs have long been a motivator for political movements, acts of violence, and abuse. It makes up nearly a fifth of all motivated hate crimes. Jews are most likely to experience such maliciousness, followed by Muslims. Religiously-charged incidents often manifest as attacks on groups rather than individuals.

3. Sexual Orientation

Attacks on members of the LGBTQ+ community continue to rise and are among the most frequently documented. Gay men are about four times as likely to be victims of such offenses as are lesbians. That said, incidents targeted at groups are quite common, as was the case in the Orlando nightclub shooting of 2016.

4. Disability

Although it’s a smaller percentage, the number of attacks on people with disabilities is nothing to turn a blind eye to. This statistic is indeed increasing each year. There were 116 single-bias incidents involving people with disabilities in 2017. That figure shot up 159 in 2018.

5. Gender

Violent acts that are motivated by woman/man-hating continue to plague the country. Issues surrounding rape and harassment and assault are the primary concerns in this category. Organizations such as the American Association of University Women was founded in 1881 and focused on equity among women and men as well as greater law enforcement to handle such violence at colleges.

6. Gender Identity

One of the most prevalent topics in society today is the number of harmful attacks on people who identify as trans or queer. This judgment-motivation category jumped from 119 in 2017 to 168 in 2018. If the 2020 figures are to be any better, a justice system overhaul is necessary.

Fortunately, the FBI hate crime statistics take all of these demographics and categories into consideration. Also, several of its findings are open to the public, including the hate crime incidents “Per Bias Motivation and Quarter” table. This compiles state, federal, and agency filings from 2018.

By gathering that data, we could combine those metric scores and reveal a more conclusive summary of violence across the board. After that, we summarized the results for each state and identified the top 10 offenders in the country. Alabama and Wyoming didn’t file any such incidents in 2018, so our list included the remaining 48 states. It’s worth noting that Alaska, Mississippi, and Montana each submitted fewer than 10 incidents. Also, each state has a varying number of legal enforcement agencies, ranging from one to several hundred.

Hate Crimes in America: 10 States With the Most Offenses

To find where most hate crimes take place, we compiled all of our findings into a definitive chart. It also reflected our overview of the Top 50 U.S. State Statistics, which was created on the grounds of FBI data. We calculated each metric based on the city population because that’s how the Federal Bureau of Investigations did it.

#1 California: Hundreds of Bias-Motivated Crimes Each Year

One of the largest states in the country, California, has a diverse blend of ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and LGBTQ identities. A quarter of its residents are of Mexican ancestry, and about a third of the nation’s Asian population lives there. The region has the highest percentage of LGBTQ+ adults, too. Unfortunately, this is also one of the states with the most hate crimes based on gays, lesbians, and racial minorities.

California
CRITERIA INCIDENTS DESCRIPTION
Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry 596 Urban areas like Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose experience the highest incidences of racially-charged attacks. LA alone had 136 such occurrences in 2018. This may be fewer than Michigan, New Jersey, and Washington, but given that nearly 40% of California’s population is Hispanic, it’s worth noting that violence against Latinos is on the rise.
Religion 199 Religious extremism taints many people’s worldview, and California experienced nearly 200 violent acts and filings in this category last year. It has the second-highest number of religion-motivated offenses in the country, trailing only behind New York. This is interesting considering that the majority of these incidents are against Jews, but California has a very low Jewish population.
Sexual Orientation 239 This state surpasses all others when it comes to attacks fueled by homophobia. The next state in line is Washington, with 133 fewer assaults than California. This makes sense, considering that the region is home to San Francisco and LGBTQ+ mecca of sorts. The city has a rich history of LGBTQ+ rights and movements.
Disability 7 California has fewer cases of disability violence than other states on the list, particularly Massachusetts, Michigan, and Ohio. Two cities that documented such a hate crime last year were Davis and San Luis Obispo. Davis, CA, has about 25% of its population living below the poverty line. Likewise, about 26% of San Luis Obispo, CA’s residents are poor, a figure that’s similar to Cleveland, Ohio.
Gender 4 Compared to other regions on the list, California has a lower incidence of bias against men and women. This could be due to the state’s prevalence of politically-minded college students. They often lead the way in terms of equality. Comparatively, Michigan has the highest number in this category, at 12.
Gender Identity 20 California may be home to the “gay capital of the country,” but it still had 20 documented attacks based on biases against trans or queer people last year. This puts it just one ahead of Washington and five ahead of Texas. One possible reason for this may be the prevalence of Hispanic and African American populations in the state. These ethnic groups are more likely to hold traditional religious views that may clash with male/female fluidity and non-conformity.

#2 Washington: How This Wealthy, Progressive State Stacks Up

This region is known as one of the most socially-progressive and justice-focused in the U.S. Unemployment tends to be on the lower end, and health outcomes are fairly good. The state was also one of the first to legalize same-sex marriage and recreational marijuana. Besides that, it’s one of the richest states in the nation. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s immune to criminal activity.

Washington
CRITERIA INCIDENTS DESCRIPTION
Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry 299 The large majority of Washingtonians are white. Moreover, half of the state population lives in the metropolitan city of Seattle. It makes sense that 159 of the 299 racially-charged offenses in the state last year were in that city. It has around 12,500 homeless people, 40% of whom are African American. Violence and injustice against the homeless continue to be a threat.
Religion 72 Washington experienced 72 religiously-motivated incidents last year. Even though the state is socially-progressive, the majority of the residents (60%) identify as Christians. This may clash with some of the more tolerant policies that the state has adopted. On the other hand, this more homogenized religious culture may explain the lowest numbers in this category.
Sexual Orientation 106 Washington is on the high end of offenses based on discrimination against gays and lesbians. Due to its more inclusive policies, the state is more appealing to those who have non-traditional relationships or identify with the LGBTQ+ community. A higher percentage of this demographic explains why the state experiences more violent attacks on gays and lesbians.
Disability 6 The state falls in the middle of the road here, at least among our worst 10 lists. All of these occurrences took place in cities, and four of them happened in Seattle. Compare that to Boston, Massachusetts, a city with a similar population count. There were zero incidences of violence against people with disabilities in Boston last year.
Gender 5 Of the five such cases filed in Washington last year, four of them occurred in the cities. Three of them took place in Seattle, a metropolitan hub that provides loads of jobs to men and women. The state is tame compared to Michigan, which had 12 such cases in 2018.
Gender Identity 19 Unfortunately, Washington had the second-highest number of attacks against trans and queer people last year, coming in just one behind California. As a progressive and quite liberal state, it’s easy to see how there are more opportunities for angry citizens to target trans people or those who don’t fit the male/female binary norms.

#3 Texas: Everything's Bigger Here, Even Violence?

Texas is the second-largest state in the country, both by area and population size. The city of Houston, TX, is the fourth-biggest in the nation, while Austin is the most-populous U.S. capital. Over 1.5 million immigrants live in this region, and a large portion of Texans claim to have Latino or Hispanic ethnic backgrounds. The saying is that everything is bigger in Texas, but that might also be true of the crime statistics.

Texas
CRITERIA INCIDENTS DESCRIPTION
Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry 314 Texas had 314 race/ethnic-based occurrences last year, the second-highest behind California. The majority of those took place in large cities like Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston. The state has a history of deporting illegal immigrants, and it also has a decent amount of Trump supporters. This could help explain the rise in violence against Hispanics.
Religion 59 Out of the 59 religion-based incidents last year, 50 of them took place in the cities. More than three-quarters of the population identifies as Christian, and Texas is technically part of the “Bible Belt,” a region where conservative evangelism strongly correlates with politics. For some people, this figure may seem lower than expected.
Sexual Orientation 50 Texas’ violence based on homophobia is on par with other states on this list, including New Jersey and Ohio. There were two occurrences on college campuses last year; one at the University of Texas at Arlington and another at Angelo State University. California, Michigan, and New Jersey also had related disturbances at colleges last year.
Disability 16 Texas’ disability-based offenses are similar to those of New York and Tennessee. Considering that Texas is much larger than those two states, perhaps its figures in this category aren’t so bad. However, the region has twice as many cases compared to California, a state with a similar area of mass and population size.
Gender 3 Texas was on the lower end of these attacks in 2018. It was a better destination for workplace equality compared to Michigan, which had 12 incidences. This is uplifting news, especially considering that the state sits in a socially conservative and Protestant region that may delegate lesser roles to females.
Gender Identity 15 Unfortunately, Texas had one of the highest stats for attacks based on hatred against trans or queer people. The only places that did worse than it was in California and Washington. The state’s Protestant roots surely had something to do with this, although New York had 13 reportings, even with its history of LGBTQ+ rights.

#4 Massachusetts: The Least-Friendly Region of New England

Massachusetts is the only New England state on our list. More than 80% of its residents live in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, and the entire region is known for its better-than-average school and quality of life. The state is also one of the richest in the U.S. Even though it’s small, it is the third-most densely populated state, and about 15% of its citizens are foreign-born.

Massachusetts
CRITERIA INCIDENTS DESCRIPTION
Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry 200 Massachusetts had one of the highest occurrences of racially-charged attacks in the nation, although it did better than six of the places on our list. Not surprisingly, nearly half of those cases took place in Boston. Whites make up almost 50% of the residents there, followed by 23% of African Americans and 20% of Hispanics.
Religion 86 Massachusetts had the fourth-highest number of assaults based on religion in 2018. The area has a strong Christian/Puritan history, and Christianity continues to be the belief system of the majority. However, religious non-affiliation is growing rapidly in New England, and world faith centers are cropping up around Boston.
Sexual Orientation 69 Massachusetts tied with New York in the number of offenses related to hatred of and contact with gays and lesbians. They came in just behind Michigan, which had 70. Sixty-three of those occurrences took place in cities, and 39 of them were in Boston. The region has several “gayborhoods,” which are easy targets for those searching for trouble.
Disability 6 Disability-related attacks are relatively low in Massachusetts and the state tied with Washington in this category. All but one of them occurred in cities, although they were smaller metropolitan areas and nowhere near the size and scope of Boston. Therefore, there could have been accessibility issues or prejudices against disabled folks.
Gender 5 The state again tied with Washington in terms of assaults targeted towards men or women. It has a higher percentage of females than males (48% versus 52%), which may explain why Massachusetts had noticeably more incidences than other states on our list. The region has lots of acclaimed universities as well, which may have shone more light on inequality issues.
Gender Identity 7 When it comes to violence against trans and queer people, Massachusetts had an average number of cases. In this case, however, it’s not good to be average. There were two assaults on college campuses in 2018. One took place at Northwestern University and the other at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

#5 Ohio: Losing Its Midwestern Charm?

Part of the Great Lakes region, Ohio is the seventh-most populous state in the U.S. Its resident size grew by 10% each decade from 1800 to 1970, and today it is home to over 11 million people. Over a quarter of its babies belong to minority groups, and 23% of the population is under the age of 18.

Ohio
CRITERIA INCIDENTS DESCRIPTION
Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry 218 Despite being a mid-sized state, Ohio has one of the highest rates of racial discrimination in the nation. It falls behind only five states. Almost every county has experienced at least one racial or ethnic issue, and Columbus is the main offender.
Religion 40 Ohio is on the lower end of religion-based criminal activity. Again, Columbus had the most incidences last year, at six. A little over half of the residents are Christian, and nearly a quarter are non-religious. Compare that to Michigan, which had 48 cases and is 70% Christian.
Sexual Orientation 70 Ohio veers from the FBI’s guidelines of what a hate crime is and doesn’t include sexual orientation in its ensuing regulations. Rather, the legal enforcement is called an “ethnic intimidation” law and excludes discrimination against gays and lesbians. This could skew the findings, for sure.
Disability 32 Ohio’s assaults against disabled people are among the highest in the country. The next-highest is Michigan, with 19. One of the state’s prominent advocacy organizations is Disability Rights Ohio, which was only founded in 2012. It aims to fight the most common offenses committed against these people: neglect, abuse, and exploitation.
Gender 2 There were only two instances of male or female-based assaults in 2018. One occurred in Cleveland and the other at Ohio State University in Columbus. This is much better than Michigan, which had 12 incidents, one of which happened at Michigan State University.
Gender Identity 4 Ohio’s rate of discrimination motivated by trans or queer bias is among the lowest in the country. They all took place in larger cities. The thing to remember here is that the state’s ethnic intimidation law does not include sex or male/female/trans identity, so it’s hard to get precise findings in this category.

#6 New Jersey: A Reputation That Goes Beyond Bad Drivers

New Jersey is jokingly known for its aggressive (and sometimes clueless) drivers, but that’s not all people should be paying attention to. This Mid-Atlantic state is an interesting combination of prosperity and despair. It has some of the nation’s wealthiest residents as well as high-performing schools. On the other hand, over a quarter of the capital’s residents live below the poverty line, and that figure jumps to 40% in Camden.

New Jersey
CRITERIA INCIDENTS DESCRIPTION
Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry 308 New Jersey has the third-highest statistic in this category nationwide behind California and Texas. The rate of racial and ethnic abuse was highest in Evesham Township, Howell, and Madison, three primarily white and fairly affluent areas. There were a staggering 29 cases filed at colleges in 2018. The only one that didn’t document any was Rutgers University.
Religion 198 New Jersey also has the third-highest number of religion-based attacks, and it has one fewer than California. About two-thirds of the residents are either Catholic or Protestant, and 18% don’t affiliate with any belief system. Examples of harmful assaults last year included swastika graffiti in public schools and death threats directed at mosques.
Sexual Orientation 53 New Jersey sits around the national average when it comes to criminal activity based on homophobia. Six assaults occurred at Rutgers University-New Brunswick last year. The White House even piloted a campus sexual assault climate survey at that school a few years ago to combat the prevalent problem.
Disability 4 There seems to be a decent amount of advocacy groups dedicated to helping people with disabilities in this state. Moreover, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits harassment based on disability and other factors. Around 10% of the population identifies as disabled, compared to 14% in Ohio, which had 32 cases.
Gender 1 There was a single gender-related incident in New Jersey last year, which took place in Tinton Falls. Race and religion are much more likely to be motivating factors for malicious intent than if someone’s a man or a woman. Comparatively, Michigan had the highest number of such reports, at 12.
Gender Identity 7 New Jersey had seven assaults motivated by bias against trans and queer folks, the same as Massachusetts. Most of these cases took place in fairly affluent neighborhoods, which is a bit surprising. For example, around half of the cases in Massachusetts occurred in poorer towns and cities.

#7 Michigan: Diversity in Ethnicities & Economic Development

Another state within the Great Lakes region, Michigan, has about 10 million residents, making it the tenth-most populous U.S. state. About 80% of Michiganders are white, according to the 2010 Census, although the city of Detroit has a predominantly black population. This is due to the Great Migration of the early 1900s. Nearly 8,000 Hmong people live in the state; this is an ethnic group from Southeast Asia.

Michigan
CRITERIA INCIDENTS DESCRIPTION
Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry 282 Michigan’s statistic in this category is the fifth-highest in the nation, behind California, Texas, New Jersey, and Washington. Not surprisingly, the most frequent occurrences took place in Detroit, a city with a large black population. This follows the trend, as this racial group is most likely to experience hate crimes in the U.S.
Religion 48 Michigan’s religion-motivated attacks are quite low compared to other states like California, New Jersey, and New York. Van Buren County saw the highest number of such assaults. This township is predominantly white, and nearly 15% of the residents there live below the poverty line.
Sexual Orientation 70 Michigan’s frequency of attacks motivated by homophobia isn’t the highest, but it’s not exactly on the lower end either. Eighteen of the 48 assaults took place in Detroit, a city that is often characterized by its violence. The other incidents cropped up here and there throughout the state.
Disability 19 Michigan’s rate of disability-based assaults is the second-highest among the 10 worst states to live in, coming in behind Ohio. Most of these occurred in the major cities, such as Detroit. According to Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services, about 1.9 million people in the state have a disability.
Gender 12 Michigan has the highest recorded number of gender-related assaults within the worst 10 lists. Three of those 19 incidents occurred in Highland Park, a small metropolitan area surrounded by Detroit. Moreover, 87% of the population is single, the highest such statistics in the state.
Gender Identity 0 Surprisingly, the state didn’t have any documented cases of hate crimes against trans or queer people. Perhaps part of the reason for this is because discrimination based on gender or sexual identity is not explicitly banned by police enforcement. Therefore, some cases of assault or prejudice against this demographic might not come to light.

#8 New York: Big Trouble in the Big Apple

New York has about 19.5 million people living in it, making it one of the most crowded states in the U.S. About two-thirds of those residents make their home in NYC. The region’s variety of landmarks and geography is almost as diverse as its citizens. This is a place with a robust blend of ethnic and religious groups, as well as different languages and lifestyles.

New York
CRITERIA INCIDENTS DESCRIPTION
Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry 153 New York’s rate of ethnic prejudice and related criminal activity isn’t as high as California or Texas, but it’s still very concerning. There were 153 such cases last year, and 84 of them took place in NYC. Hispanics represent nearly 30% of the population, and attacks against this group are on the rise nationwide
Religion 286 New York had the highest number of religion-motivated assaults by a landslide. The second-most prevalent state was California, but it had 87 fewer incidents than New York. For reference, over 18% of the metropolitan area’s population is Jewish and lives primarily in the Brooklyn neighborhood. Offenses against Jews are the most frequent in this category.
Sexual Orientation 69 NYC, in particular, has no problem calling itself a prominent LGBTQ+ community. Over half a million people in the state are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans, and there are bound to be more that haven’t self-identified yet. Given the region’s history with LGBTQ+ rights, it makes sense that these types of attacks are lower than states like Michigan and Washington.
Disabilit 1 There was just one disability-based assault last year, and it took place in Suffolk County. New York’s progressive attitude is probably to thank for this incredibly low number. It seems that this type of discrimination is most likely to happen in the western part of the country (California, Texas, and Washington have higher rates).
Gender 1 Likewise, there was one gender-related incident in New York last year, and it happened in Ontario County. The state ties with New Jersey in having the lowest number of such occurrences within the worst 10 lists. For reference, this county is a relatively low-income area, which may bring more competition and discrimination against females in the workplace.
Gender Identity 13 New York had one of the higher rates of assaults based on sexual identity last year. This falls in line with the fact that many members of the state’s LGBTQ+ community as outspoken about their lifestyles. Even so, about 60% of people in the state are Christian, which may clash with these gay rights beliefs.

#9 Tennessee: Sparks of Violence in the Smoky Mountain State

Eight other states border landlocked Tennessee, and its capital city of Nashville is home to over a million people. It has a Confederate history, supplying more soldiers than most regions in the South. Considered part of the “Bible Belt,” it has a predominantly Christian population, half of which are evangelical Protestants. About three-quarters of its residents are white, and less than 10% are Hispanic.

Tennessee
CRITERIA INCIDENTS DESCRIPTION
Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry 100 There were at least 100 cases of racially-charged assaults in Tennessee last year, placing the state in the worst 10 places to live in the U.S. The cities of Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Lebanon had some of the highest rates. The area’s Confederate history and predominantly white population could be the primary cause of all of this discrimination.
Religion 26 Tennessee experienced 26 cases of religion-based attacks, which is the lowest within the worst 10 lists. This could be due to the state-wide consensus that most people practice Christianity. There are dozens of popular places of worship in this region, so perhaps the values of peace and grace are keeping assaults low.
Sexual Orientation 29 It is somewhat surprising that a primarily Christian state has one of the lower rates of attacks based on sexual orientation. These occurrences were most likely to happen in large cities like Memphis, where people are more open about their lifestyles. Still, same-sex marriage only obtained legal recognition in 2015.
Disability 13 Tennessee’s rate of disability discrimination and violence is the fourth-highest on our list. These cases were most frequent in Sullivan County, where nearly 13% of residents live below the poverty line. This may explain why individuals with disabilities lacked adequate care and resources.
Gender 2 There were only two instances of gender-related harassment and prejudice in Tennessee, and they didn’t take place in the larger cities. According to the Tennessean newspaper, gender equality is on the rise, at least in the workplace. Moreover, one of the filings at the Department of Safety was based on more than one motivation.
Gender Identity 4 All of the gender identity-motivated assaults occurred in the larger cities, and half took place in Greater Nashville. Only 2% of workplaces in the state are covered by local ordinances that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Yet, there are nearly 100,000 LGBTQ+ workers in the region.

#10 Arizona: Bad News in the Southwest

The Grand Canyon State is the only region in the southwestern U.S. that made it to our list of the worst 10 places to live. Arizona has a vast and varied climate, yet most people live in the Phoenix area, followed by Tucson. The growing population here is putting increased stress on the water supply, which could pose greater problems in the future. About 61% of babies are born to parents in minority groups.

Arizona
CRITERIA INCIDENTS DESCRIPTION
Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry 95 The 2010 Census estimated that about 8% of people in Arizona were illegal immigrants. Also, the state sits along the border with Mexico, which can raise concerns among conservative and politically-minded residents. It did have the lowest rate of racially-charged assaults among the list, but there are still valid concerns for the safety of indigenous people and immigrants.
Religion 34 Arizona had a much lowest rate of religion-based discrimination last year than California, New Jersey, and New York. About 39% of the population is Protestant, but another 27% doesn’t identify with any belief system at all. By comparison, New York had 286 such incidents last year, but that state also has a larger Jewish population.
Sexual Orientation 37 Arizona’s documents of sexual orientation discrimination are still on the higher end nationwide, but it’s much better than California, Washington, and Michigan. All of these cases took place in the larger cities, primarily Phoenix and Tucson. Sam-sex marriage was legalized in 2014, and the federal hate crime law has a category that protects gay and lesbian individuals.
Disability 2 Arizona had the least discrimination against people with disabilities, out-performing every state except New York. There are several disability rights organizations in the area, helping with information, outreach, legal representation, and more. Comparatively, Ohio had 32 cases in 2018. There are over 750,000 disabled individuals in Arizona and more than 1.6 million in Ohio.
Gender 2 Gender inequality is slowly becoming a thing of the past in Arizona. Several advocacy organizations exist, and Gender Studies is a course of study at many universities in the state. Even so, the median income among males is still $12,000 more than that of females.
Gender Identity 3 Conversion therapy is banned in Arizona, and the state issues new birth certificates to transgender people post-gender reassignment surgery. The state’s hate crime law does not cover acts that are motivated by gender identity. However, federal regulations do protect victims through the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Cities by Percentage Change in Hate Crimes (2017-2018)

Cities by Percentage Change in Hate Crime Statistics

2017 was a bad year for Phoenix, Arizona. The city experienced a 170% increase in prejudice-motivated criminal activity compared to 2013 figures. Its most prevalent issues centered around racial and ethnic discrimination. Seattle and Los Angeles saw spikes in racial conflicts as well as assaults based on religion and sexual orientation.

Between 2017 and 2018, some cities decreased their frequency of such assaults, while others saw a spike. For instance, Seattle’s acts of violence increased by 163% in that one year. There was also a rise in such offenses in Boston and Los Angeles. In 2017, Ohio had three high-ranking cities on the list, but the following year, Akron and Butler Township fell off the list.

Of course, it’s important to make the area’s population and relative size into account. For instance, 50% of Ohio is not going to be the same as 50% of California. Even so, both of those states experienced setbacks in terms of racial and ancestral conflicts and exploitation.

Hate Crime Laws by State

A good number of U.S. states are non-inclusive in their protection against discrimination, abuse, neglect, and assault. For instance, many southern states have regulations against racial prejudice and gender inequality, but there’s no federal regulation for the LGBTQ+ community. Only 14 states are fully inclusive, such as California, Washington, and New Jersey. Five states are not protected at all: Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Wyoming. Check out the chart below to search for the regulations (or lack thereof) in each region.

Legal Enforcement Regulations Across the U.S.

Race/Religion Sexual Orientation Disability Gender Gender Identity
AlabamaAlabama Yes No Yes No No
AlaskaAlaska Yes No Yes Yes No
ArizonaArizona Yes Yes Yes Yes No
ArkansasArkansas No No No No No
CaliforniaCalifornia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ColoradoColorado Yes Yes Yes No Yes
ConnecticutConnecticut Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
DelawareDelaware Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FloridaFlorida Yes Yes Yes No No
GeorgiaGeorgia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
HawaiiHawaii No No No No No
IdahoIdaho Yes No No No No
IllinoisIllinois Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
IndianaIndiana No No No No No
IowaIowa Yes Yes Yes Yes No
KansasKansas Yes Yes No No No
KentuckyKentucky Yes Yes No No No
LouisianaLouisiana Yes Yes Yes Yes No
MaineMaine Yes Yes Yes Yes No
MarylandMaryland Yes Yes Yes Yes No
MassachusettsMassachusetts Yes Yes Yes No Yes
MichiganMichigan Yes No No Yes No
MinnesotaMinnesota Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
MississippiMississippi Yes No No Yes No
MissouriMissouri Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
MontanaMontana Yes No No No No
NebraskaNebraska Yes Yes Yes Yes No
NevadaNevada Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
New HampshireNew Hampshire Yes Yes Yes Yes No
New JerseyNew Jersey Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
New MexicoNew Mexico Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
New YorkNew York Yes Yes Yes Yes No
North CarolinaNorth Carolina Yes No No Yes No
North DakotaNorth Dakota Yes No No Yes No
OhioOhio Yes No No No No
OklahomaOklahoma Yes No No Yes No
OregonOregon Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
PennsylvaniaPennsylvania Yes No No No No
Rhode IslandRhode Island Yes Yes Yes Yes No
South CarolinaSouth Carolina No No No No No
South DakotaSouth Dakota Yes No No No No
TennesseeTennessee Yes Yes Yes Yes No
TexasTexas Yes Yes Yes Yes No
UtahUtah Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
VermontVermont Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
VirginiaVirginia Yes No No No No
WashingtonWashington Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
West VirginiaWest Virginia Yes No No Yes No
WisconsinWisconsin Yes Yes Yes No No
WyomingWyoming No No No No No

FAQ Section

  • What is a Hate Crime, Legally?

    According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, it is a committed criminal offense which is motivated by the offender’s prejudice against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity. These acts are also known as bias-motivated because they tend to stem from a long-held racist or homophobic belief. Often, the perpetrator classifies any person of a specific race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation as their victim. These assaults can include physical harm, vandalism, property damage, neglect, and verbal abuse.

  • What is the Difference Between a Hate Crime & a Hate Incident?

    Police departments and federal agencies seem to have reached a consensus on what qualifies as a hate incident versus a criminal offense. The former can be anything that the victim believes to be spurred on by judgments and motivations based on age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, disability, or religion. On the other hand, the latter would be something that had those same motives but involved a recognized criminal offense, such as aggravated assault, harassment, murder, and burglary. This may explain the rise in hate crimes.

  • What is the Punishment for Hate Speech

    As of 2020, there isn’t a national ruling that punishes hate speech. Time and time again, American courts have voted against such regulations, stating that it violates the First Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech. That said, different kinds of speech remain unprotected in the First Amendment, including verbal declarations of violence towards a person or group of people. However, hate speech does not fall into any of those unprotected categories.

  • Who Do You Report a Hate Crime to?

    Victims of such criminal offenses should try to write down as many details from the incident as possible. This will be a tremendous help when contacting the police and filing a report. The Federal Bureau of Investigations works with police departments and agencies throughout the country. Therefore, victims should be certain that the officer filed the offense and provided a copy of the document. The office can forward the case to the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice to determine if federal prosecution is necessary.

  • Can You Go to Jail For a Hate Crime?

    Remember, it has to be a recognized criminal offense to be classified as a hate crime. In that case, the maximum penalty is usually 10 years in jail. However, the sentence could be longer depending on what kinds of offenses the perpetrator committed. For instance, if they murdered or kidnapped someone, that comes with a sentence that can be added on. Also, keep in mind that each state has distinct regulations, so certain actions may be protected while others aren’t.

  • Is Hate Speech Protected?

    It is not regulated in the U.S. Typically, this kind of talk is protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution and is merely seen as freedom of speech. Legal representatives continue to argue against this ruling to this day, so perhaps in 2020, there may be some changes, which may affect the hate crime statistics in the USA. As of right now, hate speech is not legally recognized by the country.

Is There No End in Sight?

The hope is that the hate crime statistics in 2020 will show decreases in judgment-motivated discrimination and abuse in later research. However, as turbulent as the political climate is right now, it can feel like we are far from resolving this problem. In the meantime, something that everyone can do is respect others and prevent such offenses by fostering strong, open-minded communities. It’s fine to be curious about differences, but these aren’t a reason to resort to violence.



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