FBI report: Hate crimes spike 17 percent from 2016-2017

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A new report released by the FBI shows that hate crimes have increased by 17 percent from 2016-2017.

The report comes just weeks after a gunman stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue shouting anti-Semitic slurs and killing 11 worshippers. The FBI says crimes against Jews in America rose dramatically by 37 percent.

According to the report, more than half of hate crimes targeted a person's race or ethnicity. It also found more than 20 percent focused on religion and more than 15 percent targeted sexual orientation. Smaller numbers found bias based on disability, gender identity and gender. 

There were 111 incidents reported in Connecticut.

Dr. Gerald Reid, a sociology professor at Sacred Heart University, says he doesn't see the trend ending anytime soon.

"The increasing polarization of Americans around a variety of issues I think has a lot to do with that," says Reid. "I think the rhetoric, the political rhetoric coming from both sides, particularly from the president of the United States, has intensified that polarization."

In all 7,175 hate incidents were reported in 2017. 

Reid says one of the other things the FBI data found is spikes in hate crimes around elections. He tells News 12 that was something seen even in years when there was an overall decrease in hate incidents.

With the 2020 election cycle already underway, it's another reason Reid says he's not optimistic the trend will change.

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