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UMBC ends year with unusually high number of hate crimes

Another hate crime occurred in Potomac Hall on Nov. 29, further adding to the abnormally high number of hate crimes on campus over the past year. 

According to Deputy Chief of Police Paul Dillon, UMBC police responded to the incident after receiving a call reporting an “act of intolerance” on the first floor study room of Potomac Hall. The incident involved a swastika being drawn on a whiteboard in one of the study rooms.

Dillon said that “[UMBC police] have seen an uptick of cases involving swastikas being drawn on a variety of surfaces on campus. We’ve been able to identify these cases but have not been able to link them.”

Incidents such as this one must be documented pursuant with the Clery Act. UMBC police must file an annual report on crime statistics and security policies. In this report, UMBC police define a hate crime as “a criminal offense that manifests evidence that the victim was intentionally selected because of the perpetrator’s bias against the victim.” In order to be a hate crime, the victim must be intentionally selected because of the victim’s actual or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, etc.

According to the UMBC daily crime report log, there has been a total of 16 reported hate crimes in 2017, 11 of which have occurred since August. This number almost doubles the number of hate crimes that occurred on campus in the last three years, as five hate crimes were reported in 2016, four in 2015, zero in 2014, and five in 2013.

Interestingly, the total number of reported crimes on campus has also gradually decreased each year, as there were 286 reported crimes in 2014, 283 reported crimes in 2015 and 243 reported crimes in 2016.

Since 2014, as the number of crimes decreased, the number of hate crimes increased on campus. Since there is a small sample size for the number of incidents involving hate crimes, it is difficult to judge the significance of the trends. It should be noted that these numbers include more than just crimes, as other emergencies that require medical attention are listed in the reports as well.

The number of hate crimes in the U.S. have had a similar pattern to UMBC over the past few years, although comparatively the changes of the rate of hate crimes in the U.S. have not been as severe.

According to the Uniform Crime Reporting program created by the FBI, between 2014 and 2016, the number of hate crime incidents has increased each year, with 5,479 hate crime incidents reported in 2014, 5,850 incidents reported in 2015, and 6,121 incidents reported in 2016. Interestingly, the number of hate crime incidents in 2013 was higher than 2014 and 2015, just like at UMBC, with 5,928 incidents reported that year.