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Are hate crimes being accurately reported in Tennessee?


WASHINGTON, D.C.  (AP/WMOT)  --  The FBI says hate crimes jumped by five percent across the country last year, with bias incidents involving race or ethnicity showing the largest increase.

The agency says there were some 6,100 hate crimes reported nationwide in 2016 with 275 of those incidents occurring here in Tennessee.

Authorities warn the actual number of hate crimes is likely much higher. The results rely on voluntary reporting by local police agencies.

Chris Sanders with the Tennessee Equality Project told WMOT recently he believes gender related bias incidents are definitely underreported in this state.

“I think there are great officers everywhere, in every part of the state, but there are some who just don’t know much about hate crimes or don’t care and I think some are swept under the rug.”

Two mid-state teens were charged with civil rights violations back in September after police say they defaced the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro with obscene graffiti.

Mosque spokesman Dr. Saleh Sbenaty says, however, it’s actually Muslim children who see the worst harassment while at school.

“The questions they ask in many cases are ‘What did we do to deserve this? Why do they hate us?’ So that’s basically a very hard question to hear. You cannot explain to a child of five or six years old why these events happen against somebody who was born here.”

The FBI reports crimes fueled by bias against LGBT people rose from 203 in 2015 to 234 last year. More than half the 4,200 racially motivated crimes were against black people. Jews were targeted in more than half the 1,500 plus crimes motivated by religion. 

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