Hate crimes on the rise in D.C.

More than 100 hate crimes occurred in 2016, up from the year before.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Hate crimes are on the rise in the District, the Metropolitan Police Department said. More than 100 hate crimes were reported in 2016, up from 66 the year before.

Hate crimes include those targeting victims because of their religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity or national origin. Regarding the types of hate crimes, Acting Police Chief Peter Newsham said simple assaults, threats, stalking and destruction of property were on the rise.

"We will not accept this as the new norm," Newsham said. 

Crimes motivated by religion more than tripled, up from 5 to 18. Most of those cases impacted the Jewish community, according to the police chief. 

People targeted for sexual orientation or gender identity increased by 22. 

And crimes committed because of one's ethnicity or national origin quadrupled.

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she believes there are three reasons for the uptick in reported hate crimes.

“We have had a lot of rhetoric nationally, and some locally, that hasn't been all that inclusive,” Bowser said. “We also quite frankly think that we have done a better job letting people know how to report crime.”

She added that people know if they report a crime, something is going to happen.

“People take us seriously,” Bowser said.

To combat the rising number of hate crimes, Newsham moved the special liaison branch — a unit developed to help underserved communities — directly under his office and focused outreach efforts to D.C.'s Islamic and Jewish institutions.

Additionally, Newsham will not allow his officers to ask members of the community about their immigration or residency status.

They make up a small fraction of the city's total crime. Typically, police wait to release the numbers until the end of each year to give investigators time to confirm their legitimacy, Newsham said.

Crimes motivated by hate often receive 1 1/2 times stronger sentence.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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