Recent spike in hate crimes

During the past few years, the United States has seen a major increase in the frequency of hate crimes across the country. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there was about a 6 percent increase in hate crimes in 2015, and many suspect this number will rise when estimated for 2016 and 2017.

     These crimes are commonly threats and vandalism, but they have also escalated into acts of violence.

    Recent hateful acts on minority cultural centers have occurred around the country.

    The Jewish community has seen a major uptick in anti-Semitism in past years and especially in recent months, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Even in Cincinnati, a sign in front of Hebrew Union College was spray painted with a swastika in January.

    Gravestones in Jewish cemeteries have been knocked over and broken, such as the Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia, where almost 100 gravestones were knocked over.

    Since the beginning of the new year, a wave of robocall bomb threats has been sent to Jewish Community Centers around the country. Over 100 bomb threats have been sent to over 80 Jewish Community Centers around the country since the year began, including in Cincinnati. These threats have led to the evacuations of these Jewish Community Centers and large-scale investigations.

   An audio recording from JTA, a Jewish news service, was released this January. In the recording, the caller is recorded saying, “It’s a C-4 bomb with a lot of shrapnel, surrounded by a bag”.     

    Mosques around the country have received similar treatment, especially after the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015. Vandals wrote “Muslims go home” and “This is for France” on the walls of the Muslim Community Center of Louisville, and other such crimes have occurred throughout the western world.

     Although this incited anger and fear among many people, the damages themselves could physically be fixed with a bit of paint. The emotional and mental damages, however, could have a much greater long-term effect.

     These discriminatory crimes have also escalated into violence and murder. On Feb. 22, two Indian men were shot in a bar in Kansas, with one dying from his wounds. The suspect was reported to have yelled “get out of my country” before shooting, leading the FBI to investigate this as a hate crime.

      On March 3, a Sikh man was shot in a suburb of Seattle, being told, “Go back to your own country” by the gunman. These crimes have spread fear among minorities across the U.S. as they are frightened that similar crimes could follow.

     Although this hate is scattered all over the country, it has recently found itself closer to home.

   On Jan. 22, Withrow High School was vandalized with several offensive statements, including racial, homophobic and anti-Semitic slurs. This vandalism horrified and angered the students, faculty and parents of Withrow, as well as many other Cincinnati residents, causing them to call for an immediate investigation to find the culprit.

   Although no one has been caught, members of Cincinnati Public Schools, including WHHS students, have come together by wearing orange shirts (the school’s color) and attending Withrow’s sporting events to show support.

    While hate crimes are on the rise, the response to them has also become even stronger. Cincinnati is a prime example of a community coming together against hate and showing support for everyone.