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Hate crimes in US poised to surge ahead of 2024 election: Report

People protest against against a ruling by the US Supreme Court upholding former President Donald Trump's travel ban on people from mostly Muslim countries in Washington DC, US. (File photo)

A new report by a civil rights organization says hate crimes in the United States are likely to spike ahead of the 2024 election.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund said on Thursday that FBI data shows an unmistakable pattern of a rise in hate crimes during general elections, Yahoo News reported.

“From the mainstreaming of hate and the failure of social media platforms to adequately address disinformation, the current climate is rife with opportunities for the trend of increased hate to continue into the 2024 election — unless action is taken,” stated the report by the Leadership Conference Education Fund, the research arm of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

The report charts “an unmistakable pattern that has emerged during the last four presidential campaign cycles” showing “reported hate crimes increase during elections.”

The data, which draws on findings from 230 national human rights organizations, suggests that from 2008, when Barack Obama, the first Black American president in US history, took office, hate crimes have been on the rise.

“Research has shown that the 2008 election cycle served as a ‘rebirth’ of the anti-government militia movement from the 1990s. The final weeks of the 2008 election saw an increase in hate crimes targeting racial and ethnic minorities as the United States elected its first Black president,” the report stated.

The report says hate crimes have nearly doubled since 2015. It says a staggering spike came during and after Donald Trump’s election campaign and it has not returned to the levels before the Trump period.

The civil rights group suggests that Black people and Muslims are the main targets of hate crimes.

The Muslim population of the United States has increasingly been the target of Islamophobia and hate crimes in the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks, which unleashed a new era of racism and discrimination against Muslims.

“I think that’s a responsibility for anybody in a leadership role, anybody who's running for president or office or anybody who’s currently in government, to use their pulpit to speak out against hate,” Steven Freeman, vice president of civil rights at the Anti-Defamation League, told Yahoo News.

Anti-hate groups have urged the US government to make sure that tech giants like Meta, YouTube and Twitter increase transparency and “invest in de-platforming hate for the upcoming local, state, and national elections” to address hate incidents.

Nadia Aziz, a program director with the Leadership Conference Education Fund, told Yahoo News that Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign “empowered white nationalists and provided them with a platform.”

“A lot of the trust and safety teams have kind of been gutted. So we need to make sure, especially going into this election, that these teams that monitor disinformation and safety and content are rebuilt,” Aziz said. “We just really need to make sure that they are prepared for what’s to come.”

Michael Lieberman, senior policy counsel at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a contributing partner to the report, said that one of the purposes of the report is “to signal an early warning about what we can see and what we can predict.”

“Knowing how the election cycles have brought out hate and normalized hate in the past, and what that had meant in terms of actual violence being directed against people on the basis of personal characteristics, we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can as a government, as community-based organizations, to make sure that we are prepared for the 2024 election cycle,” Lieberman added.

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