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Hate Crimes Continue to Rise in the U.S.

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Hate crime has been much in the news lately, with an expansive new law put on the books just last month. Today, we’re releasing our latest annual statistics on the extent of bias-fueled crime across the country, which we hope will contribute to the ongoing national dialogue and to public and private efforts to address its underlying causes.

Overall, the 2008 numbers are up slightly
—7,783 incidents and 9,691 victims (including individuals, businesses, and institutions) were reported to us by our law enforcement partners across the country. But a note here: our Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program doesn’t report trends in hate crime stats—yearly increases or decreases often occur because the number of agencies who report to us varies from year to year.

You can find much more information in the full report, broken down into categories such as locations, victims, offenders, incidents, and offenses.

Here are some of the key numbers:

5,542 offenses were classified as crimes against persons. Intimidation accounted for 48.8 percent of those crimes, simple assaults for 32.1 percent, and aggravated assaults for 18.5 percent. Seven murders were reported as hate crimes.

3,608 offenses were classified as crimes against property. The majority (82.3 percent) were acts of destruction/damage/vandalism. The remaining 17.7 percent consisted mainly of robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

Of the 6,927 known offenders, 61.1 percent were white, 20.2 percent were black, and 11.0 percent were of an unknown race.

31.9 percent of hate crimes took place in or near homes; while 17.4 percent took place on highways, roads, alleys, or streets; 11.7 percent in schools and colleges; 6.1 percent in parking lots and garages; and 4.2 percent in churches, synagogues, or temples.

What’s the impact of the new hate crime legislation on future hate crime statistics? The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act—the first expansion of federal civil rights laws since the mid-1990s—criminalizes violence (or attempted violence) against victims because of their race, color, religion, or national origin, and also adds four new categories to that list of biases—actual or perceived gender, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. In addition, the law eliminates the provision that the crimes also be motivated by the victim’s participation in one of several specific federally-protected activities.

The FBI has been collecting statistics on hate crime motivated by sexual orientation since 1991 and hate crime motivated by a disability since 1997, and we will continue to do so. In light of the new law, though, we’ll begin the process of adding the collection of hate crimes motivated by gender and gender identity and incorporating them into our annual report. Our UCR staff will also work to expand their long-time training for state and local law enforcement on hate crime collection to include these two new categories of biases.

And of course, the investigation of all hate crimes that fall under federal jurisdiction—along with any assistance we can provide to our state and local partners working these cases—will continue to be a top investigative priority for the FBI. So contact your local FBI field office if you believe you have witnessed or been victimized by a hate crime.


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