Crime

Hate Crimes in Florida Jumped 33 Percent in 2016, Hitting Four-Year High

Hate Crimes in Florida Jumped 33 Percent in 2016, Hitting Four-Year High
Photo by Elvert Barnes / Flickr
It turns out that repeatedly holding Nazi-lite presidential rallies in a state known for its millions of lunatics might not have been a great way to spend 2016.

According to FBI data released yesterday, Florida cops reported 96 hate incidents last year. That's up from 72 in 2015 — a 33 percent jump. (And up from 65 incidents in 2014 and 76 in 2013.) Last year represented the largest number of hate crimes reported since 2012, when cops tallied 144 crimes based on bigotry.

County-specific info is a bit muddy in the FBI's databases, but within Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach Police reported a whopping 12 anti-LGBTQ crimes, which made up more than a third of the state's anti-gay attacks. There were also four reported "anti-religion" crimes in Miami Beach, two in North Miami, and one reported by Miami-Dade County Police.

Thankfully, race-based attacks seem to still be down from their historic peaks. Within the past decade, hate crimes hit an apex in 2012, and more than 50 percent (77 of 144 reported crimes) of those hate incidents were listed as race-based attacks or harassment incidents.

(Oddly, the number of police departments participating in the FBI's Uniform-Crime-Reporting program dropped precipitously after 2014 — that year, 505 different agencies covering 19 million people participated in the Bureau's hate-crime monitoring program. In 2016, just 46 departments covering just 8 million residents took part.)

The FBI's data meshes with what Floridians told New Times most of last year: Scores of residents reported getting screamed at, harassed, and otherwise treated in a hostile manner across the state in 2016. Many blamed the spike in anger on the presidential election — Donald Trump ran a transparently racist campaign based on kicking brown people out of the country, motivating a host of ethno-nationalist scumbags to come out of the woodwork.

Nationally, the FBI tallied more than 6,100 hate crimes last year, up from 5,800 in 2015. The number of crimes against Jewish and Muslim citizens increased last year (just as Jewish and Muslim civil rights organizations warned would happen). Roughly half of all perpetrators were white people.

In a June investigation, New Times partnered with the investigative-reporting nonprofit ProPublica to take its own tally of hate crimes across the Sunshine State. ProPublica received 169 hate-crime reports from Florida residents — though New Times was not able to verify each incident independently, victims reported getting screamed at and beaten up in Miami for identifying as "genderqueer" (neither male nor female), getting called a "sand nigger" and told Trump was "gonna deport your terrorist ass" simply for being Muslim in Sanford, getting called a "faggot" for having a pro-equality sticker on a St. Petersburg car, and spotting large red swastikas spray-painted across Broward County.
click to enlarge Vandalism of a car in Sanford. - PHOTO VIA PROPUBLICA
Vandalism of a car in Sanford.
Photo via ProPublica
Separate data released this year also showed that far-right, neo-Nazi, and neo-Confederate groups have been unafraid to show their faces in public lately. According to a tally from the Anti-Defamation League, Floridians made up a huge percentage of the racist demonstrators at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a neo-Nazi drove a car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters and killed a progressive activist.

One of the Charlottesville attendees from Miami, Christopher Rey Monzon, was later arrested in Hollywood, Florida, for charging at a crowd of civil rights protesters and using a flagpole to try to stab and/or beat them. Seconds before the attack, Monzon was caught on film hurling insults at Jews.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.