Hate crimes have risen from 2014 to 2015 in North Carolina according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's 2015 report on hate crimes.
According to the data, 162 hate crimes occurred in total in the state throughout the duration of 2015 — an increase of 15 percent from 2014.
The FBI report included data on hate crimes on the basis of race, ethnicity and ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender and gender identity.
The number of hate crime incidents related to race and sexual orientation increased the most. The number of hate crimes motivated by racial bias in the state increased from 96 in 2014 to 106 in 2015. The number of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation bias increased from 23 in 2014 to 37 in 2015.
Ben Graumann, spokesperson for Equality N.C., said he doesn’t know the specific cause of the spike in hate crimes, but believes House Bill 2 could play a role.
“We’ve seen an overall trend in the increase of hate crimes against LGBT people in the community and this coincides directly with what we’re hearing from our members who are feeling unsafe in their communities as a result of HB2,” he said.
Graumann said he is interested in seeing the statistics for 2016.
“I mean that statistic was from 2015 so I’m actually curious to see what next year's statistics would look like,” he said.
Roland Staton, first vice president of the Durham branch of the NAACP, said he wanted to emphasize the increase in hate crimes despite some denial by news sites.
"So the first thing is that there is in fact a spike in hate crimes," he said. "I'm making this point so stridently because there were a number of false news sites that deny that there is a spike in hate crimes when there have been."
Rev. Melvin Whitley, president of Action N.C., said hate crimes have always been present throughout history.
“Well the reality is that hate crimes have always been with us,” he said. “We, as a public, we just don’t register because it’s not being perpetrated on everybody.”
Staton said it is important for students at UNC to stay educated and energized in the face of hate crimes.
"I want to encourage all the students on my alma mater campus to make sure that they stay informed, that they stay energized even if they are discouraged," he said.
Staton said there is no simple solution to hate crimes, but that it will take a commitment to justice from everyone.
“We’re going to have to educate folks against false news," he said. "Folks are going to have to just be on their game. They’re not going to be able to just sit back on the couch and wait for other people to do stuff.”
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