Dylann Storm Roof was charged Friday with nine murder counts in the shooting of congregants in a historically black church in Charleston, S.C. It's an extreme version of a grievously common occurrence: hate crimes against black people in America.
Blacks are the targets of hate crimes more than any other group in U.S. According to statistics gathered by the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center, 50 out of every 1 million black citizens were victims of racially motivated crime in 2012, a share that’s nearly twice as high as the next most-targeted group, Native Americans.
This imbalance exists throughout the country, but it is more pronounced in South Carolina. In the state, the percentage of hate crimes that were racially motivated was higher than the national average three of the last four years where FBI data was available. South Carolina is home to 19 hate groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. That’s a relatively small share of the 784 hate groups currently active in the United States, but as a whole, South Carolina may be slightly more racist than the rest of the country, according to some measures; its residents search for racist terms on Google more frequently than the national average.
In South Carolina, race remains the dominant factor in hate crime. According to statistics compiled by the FBI, race motivates hate crimes more than any other factor, including religion, sexual orientation, disability or gender identification.
Over time, the number of hate crimes reported has remained steady. Yet those numbers are worth taking with a grain of salt because they are derived from local law enforcement statistics. For example, Mississippi -- no stranger to racial tension -- routinely reports the lowest numbers of hate crimes of any state in the nation.