Michael Crawford

FBI Reports Hate Crimes Increase

Filed By Michael Crawford | November 21, 2007 10:19 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: anti-gay violence, gay rights, hate crimes against LGBT people

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.

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The FBI report shows that anti-white hate crimes increased by 7 percent while anti-black hate crimes increased by 0.04 percent. The Jena High School noose-hanging incidents and the Megan Williams incident would only increased the number of hate crimes by three. They would be statistically insignificant.

Civil rights leaders have criticized the FBI hate crime report for grossly underestimating the number of hate crimes. The much more comprehensive Justice Department study, also released this month, lists 190,000 hate crimes per year compared to just 7,722 hate crimes in the FBI report. However, the Justice Department statistics show that whites and Hispanics are more likely to be victims of hate crimes than blacks: "Per capital rates of hate crime victimization varied little by race or ethnicity: about 0.9 per 1,000 whites, 0.7 percent blacks, and 0.9 percent Hispanics."

The Justice Department numbers reveal that whites (including Hispanics) make up only 43 percent of hate crime offenders, even though they make up nearly 80 percent of the population. It identifies 38.8 percent of hate crime offenders as black, even though blacks make up only about 12 to 13 percent of the population. By contrast, the FBI numbers identified 58.6 percent of hate crimes offenders as white and 20.6 percent of hate crime offenders as black.

The Megan Williams incident occured in 2007 so it would not be included in the 2006 FBI Release even if all the departments reported.

Under-reporting is definitely a problem. Even if all the police departments reported, there would still be a shortage of information on this subject since people don't think that they can go to the police with a hate crime. They generally feel, and are often justified in feeling, that the police are complicit in this kind of violence. I think that's part of the reason that those statistics show that whites are more likely to be the victims of hate crimes, since I wouldn't be surprised to find out that whites are more likely to report a hate crime if it happened to them.

But, of course, the crimes in Jena and in West Virginia wouldn't be included in 2006 stats since they happened in 2007.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 21, 2007 5:51 PM

The Jena High School noose-hanging incidents and the Megan Williams incident would only increased the number of hate crimes by three.

Blair, the point is, this is the tiny tip of a much larger ice-berg of unreported hate crimes against African-Americans.

The police need to launch a hate-crime investigation against George W. Bush.

On balance, George W. Bush is a hate-crime criminal.


Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang
B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
Messiah College, Grantham, PA
Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993