Life After Hate first looked at the state of hate and impact of violent extremism in the United States through a list of 10 important numbers back in 2018. We reflected:
“From the deadly attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, to the viral videos of Americans harassing their black neighbors undertaking the most pedestrian activities, 2018 has continued to give us more reasons to confront an ugly truth: incidents of racism and intolerance appear to be more common.
But what’s really happening? Is what we’re seeing the result of increased news reporting? Is the growing use of social media a factor? To put things in perspective as we head into a new year, we turn to 10 figures released this year that give us a more nuanced look into the state of hate.”Life After Hate Blog, 2018.
It’s been five years since we’ve updated the numbers, and those five years have been filled with more extremist violence, more questions, and a few answers about violent extremism. We know social media is a leading avenue for spreading extremist beliefs and promoting violent extremism. That’s no longer a question. With more years and more data, the facts are crystal clear. The state of hate in our country is vast–-and the impact of violent extremism is consistently growing. Looking at the state of hate in 2023, Life After Hate puts forward a new list that offers a necessary view into the realities and impact of violent extremism in the United States.
Many hate and extremist groups are registered as non-profit organizations. As a benefit of being a non-profit, these registered extremist groups can receive donations from umbrella charity distribution organizations called “donor-advised funds.” Donor-advised funds account for 10% of all giving in the United States. Donors chose them primarily for their flexibility and impact (and we accept donations from them, too). Donor-advised funds also provide donors with an extra layer of anonymity that has been exploited to provide cover in funding hate groups. According to a new report briefing from the SPLC, six donor-advised funds funneled $23 million in anonymous money into the bank accounts of hate and extremists groups in Fiscal Year 2021.
In 2020, the FBI was investigating 850 people for domestic violent extremism and domestic terrorism. At the end of Fiscal Year 2022, that number was 2,700. The dramatic increase doesn’t stop at the investigative stage, however. The chart below shows the dramatic increase in the number of charges for domestic terrorism-related cases.
According to the FBI’s recently released 2022 Hate Crimes Statistics, 11,634 hate crime incidents occurred in 2022. This is the total number as reported by 14,631 law enforcement agencies, 77.5% of total agencies constituting a population coverage of 91.7%. The number of total hate crimes saw a 7.2% increase from 2021 to 2022, despite the fact that violent crime overall decreased by 1.7% in the United States. It is widely estimated that even with this increase in participation and reporting, the number of actual incidents is much higher due to a high number of unreported incidents, police disagreeing on hate as a cause, and state inconsistencies with current hate crime laws.
246,000 is the average number of hate crimes that have occurred each year between 2005 and 2019 as estimated by the National Crime Victimization Survey. This estimate includes the total of hate crimes regardless of reporting or classification status and indicates that reported hate crimes only constitute a fraction of the total.
The NCVS is self-reported, noting that “hate crimes include those that victims perceive as motivated by the offender’s bias against their race, ethnic background, or national origin; gender; association with people who have certain characteristics or religious beliefs; sexual orientation; disability; religion; and perceived characteristics or religious beliefs.”
Over the last 10 years, domestic terrorism-related investigations have grown by 357%. The number more than doubled since 2020 and the number of open FBI investigations specifically has more than quadrupled from 1,981 in FY 2013 to 9,049 in FY 2021.
Domestic extremists killed at least 25 people in the United States in 12 separate incidents in 2022. 10 of the victims targeted were at a grocery store in a Black neighborhood of Buffalo, NY. While white supremacist-linked individuals commit the highest number of murders in most years, in 2022, 21 of the 25 murders were linked to white supremacists.
22% of all hate crimes in 2022 had victims targeted due to “anti-Black or African American bias,” the highest share of any group. This is down from 31% in 2021. Despite the decrease in percentage seen year-over-year, Black Americans remain the most frequent victim of hate crimes in the United States. For context into how over-represented they are as victims of hate crimes, African Americans make up 12.1% of the total U.S. population.
Between 2020 and 2021, the number of hate crimes based on anti-Asian or Asian American bias rose by 167% according to data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program. This is the largest increase in incidents of any identified group. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism calculated that the increase in anti-Asian or Asian American hate crimes was 339% from 2020 to 2021. Regardless of which number is “correct,” there is no denying that anti-Asian and Asian American hate crimes are increasing and Asians and Asian Americans feel less safe. In a May 2022 Pew Research Center survey, 36% of Asian adults say they have altered their daily schedule or routine in the past 12 months due to worries that they might be threatened or attacked.
In 2022, the Anti-Defamation League identified 3,697 antisemitic incidents throughout the United States. This is a 36% increase year-over-year from the number of incidents in 2021 and the highest number on record since the ADL began tracking such data in 1979. The ADL’s number mirrors the FBI’s data, with 1,122 single-bias incidents which is the highest number in three decades and the second highest ever recorded from the FBI since they started keeping track in the 1970s.
The FBI Hate Crime Statistics identified 10,299 known offenders in 2022. Considering how underreported hate crimes are in the United States, we can assume that this number is also dramatically low.
Curbing the Impact of Violent Extremism
As these numbers demonstrate, there is no mistaking that the impact of violent extremism is a serious and increasing threat to the United States and its people. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With all of the hate and violence that seen all around the country and around the world, the good news is that change is possible.
We know that joining the violent far-right is a social process–-it can involve being recruited by people you trust, in chat rooms full of conspiracy theories parading as political and social commentary, or with grievances swapped in person. As our CEO, Patrick Riccards, puts it, “The good news is social networks can also offer a pathway and source of motivation for people contemplating exiting lives of violent extremism.”
While 48% of Americans believe that extremists cannot change their beliefs, research and lived experience have demonstrated that it is possible. Those who have committed violent acts of extremism can learn from their misdeeds and can transform themselves into positive, productive members of our civil society. Such transformation is not easy, but it can be done. It requires that we demonstrate the compassion necessary for individuals seeking a pathway out of violent extremism, helping them through a process of rehumanization and growth.
We know how this is done. Twelve years ago the founding members of Life After Hate realized that their own paths out of a life of violence were fraught with loneliness, uncertainty, and fear. They committed to making sure that anyone who wanted to leave extremism would have access to the help they needed to do it. Life After Hate is the organizational embodiment of that vision. We help people leave a life of violence so that they can lead productive lives and we can all be a little safer. But we need your help to reach those 10,299 people, one person at a time. Change is possible if we work together to demonstrate compassion with accountability. Donate today.