In this week’s roundup: Police across the country are reporting anti-heterosexual hate crimes, but there’s no evidence such crimes exist; a rabid anti-Semite running for senator in California and investigating hate crimes in online gaming.

It has long been known that police departments across the country do a horrible job of reporting hate crime statistics. A federal agency estimates that there are at least 250,000 hate crimes in the United States every year, but official FBI statistics hover at about 6,000.

Now, ProPublica has uncovered another fallacy in the stats saga: Police are reporting anti-heterosexual hate crimes when there is little evidence such crimes are happening.

In 2016, police departments reported a total of 148 anti-heterosexual hate crimes to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports. Since 2010, for example, the Columbus, Ohio Police Department has reported six incidents of anti-straight hate crimes, ProPublica reported.

ProPublica requested records from every law enforcement agency that reported an anti-heterosexual hate crime in 2016. It received records for 58 of the crimes reported that year. None of those was legitimately anti-heterosexual, ProPublica found.

About half were actually anti-gay or anti-bisexual crimes that were miscategorized. Seven cases appeared to reflect other types of bias, with victims targeted because they were Jewish or black or women. Some 18 cases don’t seem to have been hate crimes at all, containing no discernible bias element.

People across the country are still being targeted on a regular basis because of their sexual orientation. Here are three reported anti-LGBT hate crimes we saw over just the past few weeks:

  • A man was arrested in California’s Wine Country and charged with making threats against the local LGBT community after allegedly claiming he would detonate a pipe bomb at a supermarket in the historically gay-friendly resort town of Guerneville. The man also is accused of twice stealing a rainbow flag from the local Chamber of Commerce building.
  • This week, hate crime charges were added to the cases against four men accused of assaulting a couple after last month’s Gay Pride Parade in Miami Beach. The men allegedly shouted homophobic slurs and repeatedly punched and kicked the two victims. The suspects now face up to 30 years in prison.   
  • Police at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire are investigating a report of a hate crime against a male student who was allegedly assaulted because of his sexual orientation last Friday.

Anti-Semite for Senate

You don’t see many political candidates openly praising fascism, but you don’t see many political candidates like Patrick Little.

Little is a Republican running to unseat California’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. He recently took to the alt-right message board 4chan for a Q&A with the site’s far-right users. When one of those users asked Little to “define fascism,” Little replied:

Fascism is a hyperbolic return to traditions of a culture that has been targeted for atomization by jewish subversion. It focuses on overcoming the artificial divides that the jews use to d&c (divide and conquer) a nation they wish to control

During the Q&A, Little bashed Jews, promoted white nationalism, and, honestly, he spent most of the time bashing Jews.

A recent poll from Survey USA put Little in second place among all candidates, taking 18 percent to Feinstein’s 39 percent. That is an enormous number for a candidate who once equated Adolf Hitler to the “second coming of Christ.”

The polling in a lot of California races has been all over the place lately, so Little’s strong showing should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Even so, the GOP has put as much distance as possible between itself and Little, booting him from the party’s convention earlier this month and vocally opposing his candidacy.

“His views do not represent the Republican party,” Matt Fleming, the communications director for the state party, told us. “They are the complete opposite of everything we believe.”

Fleming suggested that, because the only information about Little contained in the Survey USA polls was his name and party identification, most people who said they supported him didn’t actually know anything about his views. Instead, they may have simply responded to the “R” next to his name.

Former American Nazi Party member Arthur Jones was able to win the Republican nomination for an Illinois congressional seat earlier this year. With no other Republicans running, over 20,000 Illinois voters voted for a neo-Nazi.

HELP WANTED: Have you been the victim of harassment in online gaming?

We’re looking into how hate manifests itself in the online gaming space. We’ve covered the issue before, looking at how online gaming communities host groups glorifying school shooters and promoting neo-Nazi ideology. And we’ve written about sexual harassment on virtual reality platforms. Now, we want to see how that hate is affecting users of online platforms. Have you experienced hate-fueled harassment while gaming online? If so, drop us as line.

Charlottesville rally organizer wants reunion, but nobody wants to come

Jason Kessler, the organizer of the Unite the Right rally last year in Charlottesville, Virginia, wants to hold another event this year. But it seems that nobody on the far right wants to come.

The Independent reports that several high-profile alt-right figures, including Richard Spencer, League of the South leader Michael Hill and white supremacist podcaster Mike Peinovich, have publicly shunned Kessler and his plans.

Some of those alt-right figureheads have entered into legal agreements with the city of Charlottesville that they and their groups will not return to the city in an organized capacity. This week, three militia groups entered into similar pacts with the city. The agreements stem from a lawsuit brought by Charlottesville and local businesses in the wake of last year’s rally.   

Marcus Martin (center, in white tank top) and others fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. Credit: (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP, File)

On a more positive note, a couple who survived the attack on protesters in Charlottesville got married this week. Marcus Martin, who can be seen being thrown into the air in an iconic photograph of the attack, pushed his then-fiancee Marissa Blair out of the way of a car driven by a white supremacist toward the protesters. Martin’s leg was broken.

More than 30 local companies pitched in to give Martin and Blair their dream wedding.

“It proves hate won’t win,” Blair told a CNN affiliate.     

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Will Carless was a correspondent for Reveal covering extremism. He has worked as a foreign correspondent in Asia and South America. Prior to joining Reveal, he was a senior correspondent for Public Radio International’s Global Post team based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Before that, Will spent eight years at the Voice of San Diego, where he worked as an investigative reporter and head of investigations. During his tenure in San Diego, Will was awarded several prizes, including a national award from Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has been a finalist for the Livingston Awards for young journalists twice in the last five years. He surfs, spends time with his family, travels to silly places and pretends he’s writing a novel.

Aaron Sankin is a reporter for Reveal covering online extremism, election administration and technology policy. Before joining Reveal, he was a founding editor of The Huffington Post's San Francisco vertical and a senior staff writer on The Daily Dot's politics team. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Salon, Time, The Motley Fool, Mashable, Business Insider, San Francisco magazine and The Onion. A San Francisco Bay Area native, Sankin studied history and sociology at Rice University. His work at The Daily Dot was a finalist in Digiday's 2015 publisher of the year award, and a story he wrote about a Midwestern family being terrorized by a teenage hacker was labeled by The Atlantic as an essential piece of journalism for 2015. Sankin is based in Seattle.