United States hate crimes rose during fierce 2016 election, Federal Bureau of Investigation stats show

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FBI: Hate Crimes Increased by 4.6 Percent in 2016

The latest statistics are based on voluntary reporting from almost 16,000 U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Meanwhile, 21% of crimes were motivated by religion and almost 18% by a victim's sexual orientation. The number of participating agencies also varies from year to year, so simple year-by-year comparisons are cautioned against.

Six police departments reported a hate crime in 2016, including Atlanta, Conyers, the University of Georgia, along with Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett County police.

On Monday, Sessions said the Justice Department is awaiting a full report from a task force on steps it can take to improve training for prosecutors and investigators, boost data collection on hate crimes and partner with local officials and communities.

Eighteen hate crimes were reported in South Dakota past year, with the bulk of victims targeted for their race or ethnicity or sexual orientation.

The FBI's report was consistent with a report released earlier this year by a civil rights group that found an apparent increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate groups this past year.

In releasing the figures, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said hate crimes remain the "number one investigative priority" of its civil rights unit and pledged to continue collecting data on the problem.

The FBI says hate crimes rose for the second straight year in 2016, with increases in attacks motivated by bias against blacks, Jews, Muslims and LGBT people.

However, a report issued last month by the Maryland State Police showed a 40 percent increase in hate "incidents" in the state in 2016. Anti-Black hate crimes actually declined by three offenses.

Incidents targeting Jews increased from 664 incidents in 2015 to 684 incidents in 2016.

Hate crimes happened in a variety of locations.

Anti-Jewish bias was the motivation cited in a little more than half of the 1,273 religion-related hate crimes.

Another 21.0 percent were for religion, and 17.7 percent sexual orientation.

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