TAMPA, Fla.— The FBI says hate crimes increased by about 17 percent last year compared to 2016, according to the bureau's annual " Hate Crimes Statistics " report.
In 2017 there were 8,493 victims and 6,307 known offenders. By comparison, there were 7,509 victims and 5,727 known offenders in 2016, according to the report.
According to the FBI, the increase can also be attributed to the fact that more law enforcement agencies participated in reporting hate crime statistics in 2017.
According to the FBI, "58.1 percent were motivated by a race/ethnicity/ancestry bias, 22.0 percent were prompted by religious bias, 15.9 percent resulted from sexual-orientation bias and 1.7 percent were motivated by gender-identity bias."
“It’s just one thing after another for the last couple of years," said Rev. Candace Shultis.
The senior pastor at King of Peace Metropolitan Community Church says she's not surprised the FBI is investigating more hate crimes.
Shultis discovered swastikas and numbers associated with white supremacy chalked outside her church in 2016.
"I saw this as a hate crime and called the police," said Shultis. "I think the reason we were hit is that we’re predominately an LGBT congregation.”
ABC Action News contacted the FBI office in Tampa and received statistics for local incidents.
The FBI logged three hate crimes in Tampa, three in Largo, and one in Clearwater in 2017.
In a statement released Tuesday, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said the report "is a call to action -- and we will heed that call."
"The Department of Justice's top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes," the statement read. "They are also despicable violations of our core values as Americans. I am particularly troubled by the increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes -- which were already the most common religious hate crimes in the United States -- that is well documented in this report. The American people can be assured that this Department has already taken significant and aggressive actions against these crimes and that we will vigorously and effectively defend their rights."