Hate Crime in Tennessee - Statistics and Key Incidents
The hate crime and racial hate crime statistics in Tennessee from 1999 to 2018 as well as five to six cities with the highest number of hate crimes and racial hate crimes in Tennessee state from 1999 to 2018 have been provided below and in this attached spreadsheet. A visual representation of these statistics is provided in the "Hate Crime (1999-2018) — Graph" tab of the spreadsheet. In addition, details on six major hate crime incidents in Tennessee in the last 20 years have also been provided.
Hate Crime in Tennessee — Statistics
- According to statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the number of total hate crime incidents as well as racist hate crime incidents reported in Tennessee from 1999 to 2018 can be found below.
- Total hate crime incidents: 127
- Racist hate crime incidents: 75
These statistics have also been compiled in the attached spreadsheet. It is important to note that unlike previous years, bias motivation categories for "Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry" were combined in the hate crime reports for 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.
Cities with the Most Number of Hate Crimes
While the racist hate crime statistics by cities were readily available, the total number of hate crime incidents for cities in Tennessee state was not available precompiled. However, a breakdown of all hate crime incidents by bias motivation was available for cities in Tennessee in the reports published by the FBI. Hence, we used "Table 13 — Hate Crime Incidents by Bias Motivation" of the yearly FBI hate crime reports and added the hate crime incidents by bias-motivation to determine the cities with the highest number of total hate crime incidents. The names and number of incidents for 5-6 cities with the highest number of hate crimes and racist hate crimes from 1999 to 2018 have been compiled provided in this attached spreadsheet. Key takeaways from the spreadsheet are as follows:
- In 2012, six cities in Tennessee with the highest number of hate crime incidents included Memphis (61 incidents), Jamestown (30 incidents), Knoxville (25 incidents), Chattanooga (20 incidents), Nashville (10 incidents), and Pikeville (9 incidents).
- Moreover, six cities with the highest number of racist hate crime incidents in 2012 included Memphis (27 incidents), Jamestown (29 incidents), Knoxville (13 incidents), Chattanooga (8 incidents), Nashville (7 incidents), and Pikeville (9 incidents).
- In 2017, six cities in Tennessee with the highest number of hate crime incidents included Nashville Metropolitan (19 incidents), Cleveland (7 incidents), Memphis (7 incidents), Lebanon (5 incidents), Jackson (5 incidents), and Knoxville (5 incidents).
- In 2018, five cities in Tennessee with the highest number of hate crime incidents included Knoxville (10 incidents), Chattanooga (10 incidents), Memphis (6 incidents), Lebanon (5 incidents), and Millington (5 incidents).
Major Hate Crime Incidents in Tennessee
Six major hate crime incidents in Tennessee include mass shooting at Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church, Tennessee Islamic Center burning, Burnette Chapel shooting, Barack Obama's assassination plot, racially-motivated murder of code enforcement officer, and racially-motivated murder of a black resident of Veterans' Affairs assisted living home. More details on these incidents can be found below.
Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church Shooting
- On July 27, 2008, a 58-year old unemployed truck driver Jim D. Adkisson entered the "Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church" in Knoxville, Tennessee and opened fire with a shotgun.
- The attack happened during a live performance by children on the musical "Annie". Adkisson killed two people including a 60-year-old "longtime church member Greg McKendry and a retired English professor, Linda Kraeger, who came to see the play."
- Six people were injured during the attack. Two of the victims lost vision in one eye, one suffered a traumatic brain injury, and one was left in a coma for several days.
- Adkisson was charged with first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
- According to a note found in the attacker's vehicle, the attack was a hate crime against liberals.
Tennessee Islamic Center Burning
- On February 09, 2008, three white supremacists — "Michael Corey Golden, Eric Ian Baker, and Jonathan Edwards Stone — vandalized and burned down the Islamic Center of Columbia, Tennessee."
- The attackers build the Molotov cocktail explosive devices and used them to burn down the mosque. They also painted 'swastikas' and the phrase 'White Power' on the walls of the mosque.
- Two of the attackers, Eric Baker and Jonathan Stone, were Christian Identity adherents.
- Michael Golden was sentenced to 14 years and 3 months (171 months) in prison along with 3 years of supervised release. Eric Baker was sentenced to 183 months in prison and Jonathan Stone received a 73-month sentence.
- This attack was a hate crime against the Muslim community.
Burnette Chapel Shooting
- On September 24, 2017, Emanuel Kidega Samson, a 25-year-old black male, opened fire at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch killing one woman and injuring seven people.
- Samson attacked the church with the intent to kill at least 10 white churchgoers. The police found a note in his car regarding the shooting massacre at a South Carolina black church in 2015 that killed nine black people. The authorities confirmed that Samson wanted to kill 10 white churchgoers in revenge.
- Samson was sentenced to life in prison without parole in addition to "charges for 42 additional criminal counts related to the church shooting, including attempted murder, aggravated assault, and civil rights intimidation."
Barack Obama Assassination Plot
- In October 2008, two self-described white supremacists, Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman, were arrested after a robbery attempt outside Jackson.
- The suspects also confessed to planning a "killing spree against African-Americans that included then-Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama as a target". Both suspects pled guilty to "conspiracy, threatening to kill and inflict bodily harm upon a major candidate for the office of President of the US", and several other offenses.
- Daniel Cowart was sentenced to 14 years in prison along with 3 years of supervised release while Paul Schlesselman was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Racially-Motivated Murder of Code Enforcement Officer
- On April 17, 2001, a white gun dealer Dale Mardis brutally killed Shelby County's African-American code enforcement officer, Mickey Wright, "dismembered his body, burned it, and spread the remains in junk cars that were later crushed."
- The federal government termed this murder as "racially-motivated killing".
- Dale Mardis was "sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole." During the investigation, Mardis also confessed to a second murder, which did not appear to be racially motivated.
Murder of Black Resident of Veterans' Affairs Assisted Living Home
- In March 2018, John D Carothers, a white man, was sent to prison for the murder of a 40-year-old black victim, Robert Miller. The victim lived at a Veterans' Affairs assisted living home where he was set on fire by Carothers.
- In September 2018, authorities intercepted a letter from Carothers to a white supremacist group in which he confessed of murdering the black man and mentioned his white supremacist beliefs.