By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
One alleged hate crime was reported in Mississippi in 2017 — the fewest nationally, according to a new FBI report.
Only one of the state’s 28 participating agencies in the FBI’s hate crime statistics program submitted an incident report, and that was from Gulfport, the report shows.
The neighboring states of Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana reported hate crime numbers of 9, 136, seven and 26, respectively.
In fact, Mississippi had the fewest hate-crime incidents reported to the FBI in 2017, followed by Wyoming and Alaska, which each had four hate crime reports. Wyoming is where gay college student Matthew Shepard was beat to death in 1998. Shepard’s death set off a nationwide movement to crackdown on hate crimes.
Mississippi had the second fewest number of agencies taking part in the hate crime statistics reporting program after New Mexico, which had 17. In Alabama, 334 agencies participate in the hate crimes reporting program.
Mississippi does not have a hate crimes law, but a charge can be enhanced if there is evidence that discrimination was a motivating factor in a crime.
The FBI encourages law enforcement partners around the nation to report hate crime statistics.
Corinth and Alcorn County were not identified as one of the participating jurisdictions in 2017. Iuka was the closest participating jurisdiction, but it did not make any hate crime reports to the FBI in 2017, the report shows.
While Corinth was not identified in the report as a participating agency in 2017, the police department this year forwarded a recent assault case to the FBI to see if any civil rights violations were involved.
Nationally, 7,175 hate crimes were reported by law enforcement agencies to the FBI in 2017, the annual report released this month states. That is up 17 percent from the prior year, apparently due in part to an additional 1,000 agencies reporting hate crimes in 2017.
About 60 percent of the hate crime reports were allegedly based on race/ethnicity/ancestry. Other FBI categories for hate crimes include sexual orientation, religion, disability, gender and gender identity.