In a move that makes you want to scream "WTF?" neither the Jena 6 noose incidents and beatings nor the West Virginia case of six white people kidnapping, beating, torturing and sexually assaulting a Black woman were included in newly released FBI 2006 hate crimes statistics.
You read that right. Two high profile cases of whites versus Blacks in violent episodes involving nooses, beatings, and torture were not included in what is considered the "official" resource on hate crimes statistics.
An analysis of the data shows that hate crimes increased by 8% in 2006 with anti-gay hate crimes up by 15.5%. The information was collected from police departments across the country. Police departments reported 7,722 incidents targeting people or property because of race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin and mental or physical disability.
This data clearly does not tell the full story.
Of the 17,000 police departments, roughly 5,000 either do not report hate crimes information to the FBI.
Lack of full participation by the more than 17,000 police agencies around the nation somewhat undermines year-to-year comparisons.
For instance, in 2004, 12,711 agencies reported 7,649 incidents. In 2005, only 12,417 agencies reported and incidents dropped 6 percent to 7,163. But in 2006, agencies reporting rose to 12,620 and incidents climbed 7.8 percent to 7,722.
Is the failure to report hate crimes by so many police departments a sign of bias within those police departments or a sign that the problem of hate motivated violence is not considered important?
Its this kind of inconsistent reporting and investigating of hate crimes that prompted a broad coalition of civil rights groups to march on the Justice Department last Friday.
The groups including the Human Rights Campaign demanded that Justice Department officials more seriously investigate and prosecute hate crimes. The Bush administration opposes hate crimes legislation that is pending in Congress. The hate crimes legislation adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of enumerated classes and provides additional resources for the federal government to support local law enforcement agencies in investigating hate crimes.
This increase in hate crimes shows that we need to be more vocal in demanding strong hate crimes legislation and that we find better ways to counteract right-wing organizations like hate group Watchmen on the Walls that demonize LGBT Americans, people of color and immigrants. We have fought too long and have come too far to be intimidate into silence. That's what the racist and homophobic bashers want when the attack us and that is something that they absolutely will not get.