ST. LOUIS – Hate crimes have been on the rise in the United States since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. In response to the sharp increase in violence, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has sent out its Hate Crime Threat Response Guide.
FBI St. Louis Special Agent in Charge Jay Greenberg said the fear of violence spans across multiple communities.
“We are seeing a heightened sense of fear in our Jewish communities, our Arab, our Muslim, and our pro-Palestinian communities,” Greenberg said.
So, what is a hate crime?
The FBI defines a hate crime as an attack against a person or property motivated, at least in part, by a federally protected characteristic, like race or religion. Greenberg said that in the past, hate crimes have most commonly been based on race. But that has recently changed.
“Since the conflict we’ve seen arise between Hamas and Israel, we have seen an increase in crimes either targeting the pro-Israeli community as well as those targeting the Arab, Muslim and pro-Palestinian communities,” he said.
The warning comes amid a wave of investigations into possible hate crimes. Last Friday, Indianapolis police arrested a woman who intentionally drove into what she thought was a Jewish school.
In Thousand Oaks, California, police are investigating after a 69-year-old Jewish man died after being struck in the head at a pro-Palestinian rally Sunday.
Last month, a 6-year-old Palestinian boy in Illinois was stabbed 26 times and killed by the family’s landlord, who said he was upset over the war in the Middle East. He’s since been charged with two hate crimes and first-degree murder.
Greenberg’s advice if you feel threatened: do whatever you can to get away.
“The goal is to get personally safe and secure as quickly as possible, and then call 911,” Greenberg said.
The FBI broke down the different types of hate crimes and how they said people should respond to them in the Hate Crime Response Guide below.