SALT LAKE CITY – The FBI released their 2016 statistics on hate crimes across the US on Monday.
According to the FBI report, there were 47 total race related hate crimes in Utah; eight crimes against religious affiliation, nine against sexual orientation and two against disability in 2016.
Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP in Utah said, “The numbers show that there is an increase in hate crimes.”
According to Williams, Utah has no hate crime bills on the books that can be prosecuted with. Instead, the US Attorney’s Office must prosecute hate crimes, making it difficult to charge individuals who discriminate against or are violent to certain groups.
“We don’t want people committing hate crimes because they think that nothing’s going to happen to them because we don’t have a hate crimes bill,” Williams said.
Williams hopes that Utah will craft a bill that can be prosecuted, and will be more effective.
Williams said that out of the three states she represents for the NAACP, Utah, Nevada and Idaho, Utah has the worst legislature regarding hate crimes.
With respect to the most recent statistics, Williams said, “The largest number has been on race, and the largest number of people who have committed the crimes have been white.”
Williams hopes that with better laws, the numbers can go down in the near future.