Hate and bias-related crimes in DC up 62 percent

- The latest crime statistics released by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser are revealing hate-based threats and assaults in the nation's capital are way up.

Nationally, we have seen hate crimes on the Jewish community such as the attacks on Jewish cemeteries with headstones toppled over and desecrated. In the Washington D.C. region, some incidents have included swastikas drawn in a middle school bathroom and Jewish Day schools receiving bomb threats.

But it is more than just anti-Semitism that is of concern to government officials. Community activists and religious leaders in D.C. said they are experiencing similar hate-based incidents.

“The numbers have gone up and we have seen them go up in relationship to the campaign,” said Imam Talib Shareef of the Nation’s Mosque in Washington D.C. “We don't want to make it political. People can call it what it is, but that is what seems to be the case.”

A transgender woman we spoke with said she experiences all forms of hate on the streets of Washington.

"People sometimes are really rude,” she said. “They might not say anything to you as an individual, but then they laugh and they say things out loud. They may cuss at you and it really hurts."

In the District, Mayor Bowser and D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said the number of reported hate or bias crimes increased 62 percent from 2015 to 2016. Officials said there were 107 reported hate crimes in D.C. in 2016, up from 66 incidents from the year before.

Here is the breakdown of the crimes based on religion, sexual orientation, gender identification and ethnicity or national origin:

"I think what we wanted to convey today is that we are watching it,” said Mayor Bowser. “We have seen upticks in hate crimes. We want to educate the public. We want to let everyone know to call 911 and you are going to be treated with dignity and respect and the crimes that you report will be taken seriously and we will seek justice.”

Police officials said the roots of the upward trend in these types of crimes in the District are not so obvious.

"Whether it is a situation where people feel more comfortable coming forward, that would be a good thing,” said Chief Newsham. “If it is an indication that we do really have an increase in these types of crimes, that is obviously a bad thing. So I think that is why we put the data our there so we can collectively work on finding out exactly what the cause is."

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