Illustration by Lucien Guidotti-Lawrence

The Federal Bureau of Investigation classifies any crime against a specific group of people with obvious bias as a hate crime. While this definition of a hate crime has been the same for many years, as communities grow and become more diverse, so do the type of hate crimes.

Hate crimes have been occurring since as early as the first World War and most are no different today than they were so many years ago. Task forces, outreach groups and laws have all been put into place to combat these hate crimes and the federal government works every day to control this issue.

At the start of every year, the FBI releases a report compiling hate crimes in every reporting district. Oregon reported having a total of 146 “biased-motivated” crimes in 2018, up from 104 reported in 2017. Eugene recorded the highest number of hate crimes in the state, being responsible for 72 of the 146. Portland had the second-highest hate crime count, with 18 reported hate crimes.

Most victims of hate crimes in Oregon were targeted because of their race. 84 incidents, over half of all reported hate crimes last years, were motivated by racial bias or hatred. There were also 29 hate crimes motivated by religious reasons and 24 because of sexual orientation. The number of hate crimes has spiked in the last three years–even though the overall violent crime has fallen in America. According to The Washington Post, hate crimes rose by 17 percent in 2017.

Not only has the number of reported incidents risen in previous years, the classification as to what exactly is considered a hate crime has also become more inclusive. The number of racial crimes rose by 18 percent and religiously-motivated crimes rose by 22% between 2016 and 2017. Though many people have attributed the rise in hate crimes to an increase in radical partisan politics, law enforcement agencies have also began to include more groups into their definition of hate crimes. Most recently, law enforcement agencies included sexual orientation as its own category, ras the LGBTQ+ community has become more visible in American society.