Hate crimes continue to trend upward in Idaho, particularly against African Americans

Crime Watch

BOISE (Idaho Statesman) – The number of hate groups in Idaho has almost halved since 2017, but hate crime incidents continue to increase in the state according to authorities.

Fifty-four hate crimes were reported to law enforcement in the state in 2020, according to the most recent data reported from the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which is managed by the Idaho State Police and reported to the National Incident Based Reporting Systems.

Data for 2021 is yet to be published by NIBRS, a program run by the FBI.

A hate crime is defined by ISP as “a criminal offense committed against a person or property which is motivated in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race/national origin, religion, sexual-orientation, mental/physical disability or ethnicity.” It is a class c felony to commit a hate crime in the state of Idaho.

ISP provides training materials to law enforcement units to help recognize and report hate crimes. Some of those include but are not limited to, bias-related markings or symbols left at the scene of a crime, bias-related oral and written comments made by the offender, and if the incident coincided with a holiday.

The 54 crimes reported in Idaho in 2020 is a 42% increase from 2019’s total of 38 and a 108% increase from 2018’s total of 26.

Of those 54 crimes, 19 were racially motivated and 14 of those were against African Americans. Hate crimes that were against Hispanic or Latino people were the next most-common, with nine incidents. Some 17 incidents were reported regarding sexual orientation (anti-gay, anti-gender non-conforming etc.).

Hate crime by motivation
Anti-Black or African American hate crimes were most common in Idaho in 2020, making up 14 of the 54 reports within the year. | NATIONAL INCIDENT BASED REPORTING SYSTEMS

The Boise Police Department reported by far the most hate crimes in 2020, reporting 20 incidents throughout Ada and Canyon County. Twin Falls Police Department reported the next-most with seven incidents.

Although not included in the 2020 numbers, Boise has endured a string of antisemitic crimes since November, including antisemtic graffiti in a Boise park last week and antisemetic flyers being spread in the North End in December.

“While the graffiti has been removed, a persistent menace remains and it requires swift action across this community,” mayor Lauren McLean said in a video statement last week.

Hate crime groups

As hate crimes have increased in the state, the number of recognized hate groups there has decreased.

The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks hate groups for every state in the country and currently tracks seven groups in Idaho. That’s a decrease of five groups from 2017’s 12 tracked groups.

There were 51 hate crimes reported in the state in 2017, signaling the closest the state has come to 2020’s total in the past five years.

The seven groups currently being tracked can be found on SPLC’s website. One anti-Muslim group is based in Meridian and three groups are considered statewide. The other three groups are based in the Idaho Panhandle.

Hate groups map
Of the seven hate groups currently being tracked in Idaho, one is based in Meridian while three are considered statewide. | SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER

If you have any information or footage of a hate crime, you can call local law enforcement, call Crime Stoppers at (208) 522-1983, reach out online or leave a tip using the P3 Tips app from a mobile device.

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