Hate crimes expected to spike during 2024 presidential race, worrying new study shows

The White House, lit in the rainbow flag.

A new report warns that hate crimes will likely increase during the 2024 presidential race for the White House as groups including neo-Nazis attempt to “wage war on democracy”.

The study, conducted by civil rights group The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCEF), analysed FBI hate crime data from the the last 15 years.

An “unmistakable pattern” has emerged during the last four presidential campaign cycles, showing that reported hate crimes increase during elections.

The report found that the current climate is “rife with opportunities for the trend of increased hate to continue” in the 2024 election.

LCEF’s chief executive Maya Wiley told Black Entertainment Television (BET) that this “shows an extremely disturbing and sadly not so surprising trend”.

In 2008, the historic election of Barack Obama, first Black president of the United States, sparked an increase in anti-Black hate crimes, the rise of an “anti-government militia movement” and increased organising of neo-Nazi groups, according to the report.

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This only worsened when Donald Trump ran for president in 2016 as he “empowered white nationalists and provided them with a platform”.

The month Trump was elected, hate crimes in the US were the highest in more than a decade.

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Republican president Donald Trump wears a suit and tie as he holds both his hands up near his head in the shape of fists
Indicted former president Donald Trump. (Getty)

Michael Lieberman, senior policy counsel on hate and extremism at the Southern Poverty Law Center, and co-author of previous LCEF hate crime reports, told African American media network theGrio that Trump’s election elevated hate crimes in the United States.

“Only the perpetrator of a hate crime is responsible for reported crimes, but there’s absolutely no doubt that words matter and that Trump as a candidate, and then as president, was involved in anti-semitic, racist dog whistles [and] xenophobia,” Lieberman said.

Between 2020 and 2021, when Donald Trump and Joe Biden were both running for president, the highest number of hate crimes were reported since the FBI began publishing data in 1991, particularly against the LGBTQ+ community.

In that period, violence against LGBTQ+ groups increased by 54 per cent, anti-lesbian hate crimes increased by more than 80 per cent and anti-gay hate crimes increased by 40 per cent.

Reported hate crimes based on gender identity increased nearly 30 per cent from 2020 to 2021, with a 15 per cent increase in reported hate crimes targeting transgender individuals.

The LCEF report also highlights that a “small number of well-funded and well-organised proponents of bigotry and hate are having an outsized effect relative to their actual numbers” and have succeed in turning “hate into campaign platforms”.

This is evident with in the case of Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis, who is responsible for numerous anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the state, and is tipped to announce his run as a presidential candidate in the 2024 election.

Lieberman stressed that “censorship, the book banning, the anti-trans legislation is very harmful and has a real impact.”

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Also speaking to theGrio, Wiley highlighted the impact of neo-Nazi groups in their attempt to “wage war on our democracy” by silencing marginalised groups through violence.

“In some cases, groups are trying to incite civil war and are actively looking for opportunities to both thwart people they hate from being able to participate and have a voice in deciding who leads us,” she said.

Wiley also stated that the compiled data should be used to “get ahead” of the incoming violence that is likely to occur during the 2024 presidential campaign.

“It would be wrong to not take this data and recognise that we have to assume it will increase again in this election cycle and that we have the opportunity to get out ahead of it, to prepare for it and to reduce it.”

Neo-nazi groups have been classified by the FBI as “the greatest domestic threat to the United States”.

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