Members and supporters of the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the US, hold a rally in downtown Newnan on April 21, 2018 in Newnan, Ga. Community members have opposed the rally and have come out to embrace racial unity in the small Georgia town.
Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty Images)

American law enforcement agencies reported more than 7,100 hate crimes to the FBI in 2017, a 17 percent uptick from the 6,121 reported in 2016, even as violent crime resumed its slow downward trend after increases in 2015 and 2016.

Retired school teacher Peter Gust was probably unaware of the recent news, as he has spent his last few days defending his decision to instruct a group of high school seniors to give a Nazi salute, according to a student present in the group photo.

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“I felt unsafe because I go to school with them,” said Baraboo High senior Jordan Blue, who disputed Gust’s version of events to NBC News. “I don’t believe in what they represented and the symbol they shared.”

Gust’s photo, which has been shared widely since its release, has been taken down and replaced with an apology.

Nearly 3 out of 5 of the more than 7,000 hate crimes reported targeted individuals based on their race or ethnicity. At least 2,013 hate crimes targeted black citizens, while 938 targeted Jewish Americans.

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Trinidad native Marie Washington, who was stabbed repeatedly in a Brooklyn subway station while being called a “black bitch” by her white, male attacker should be notified. Her victimization might not be a hate crime, but we anticipate she’d be happy to know that nationwide reporting is up when she has her chest tube removed.

Acting Attorney General Matthew A. G. Whitaker said the latest numbers are “a call to action—and we will heed that call. The Department of Justice’s top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes. They are also despicable violations of our core values as Americans.”

While police departments nationwide continue to boost reporting, numbers shouldn’t be taken as sacrosanct; a large number of law enforcement agencies don’t report hate crimes due to differing laws and definitions. When taken into account alongside the potentially dubious nature of reporting hate crimes to, well, law enforcement, and a grim picture grows even darker.

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Cindy Hutchinson couldn’t be reached for comment.