Monday, November 14, 2011

Who is Hated When Hate Crimes Are Committed?

The FBI has released its report on reported incidents of hate crimes in the United States. The report allows to determine who the victims are in these cases.

The largest category of hate crimes remains those that are racially motivated. They accounted for 47.3% of all such incidents in the country. Of those 69.8% of the victims were black, 18.2% were white, 5.7% were mixed race, 5.1% were Asian or Pacific Islander and 1.2% were Native Americans.

In spite of what conservatives may say the majority of hate crimes were not committed by blacks. Whites made up 58.6% of offenders in racially-motivate hate crimes.

Hate crimes based on sexual orientation and religion were neck-in-neck for second place with religious hate crimes barely taking the lead. They accounted for 20% of all hate crimes. Now, groups on the Religious Right have claimed that fundamentalists are frequently hate crime targets. The National Organization for Marriage has refused to reveal who is funding them on the basis that they will become targets of hate crimes. But the actually hate crime incidents don't support their hysteria.

Two-thirds of all hate crimes, 65.4% were directed against Jews. Another 13.2% were directed against Muslims. Just 4.3% were anti-Catholic and 3.3% were anti-Protestant. The rest were undefined or against non-beliebvers.

Attacks based on sexual orientation made up 19.3% of all incidents. The main victim were gay men, making up 57.9% of all cases. Anti-lesbian attacks made up 11.4% of the cases while 27.4% were directed at gay people in general.  Only 1.4% of cases indicated an anti-heterosexual bias and 1.9% were directed at bisexuals.

Two-thirds of these crimes were classified as crimes against persons and one-third were crimes against property. In 46% of the crimes against persons it was an act of intimidation, in 53% of the cases someone was the victim of assault. There were seven cases of murder and 4 cases of rape that were hate inspired.

In crimes against property the vast majority, 81% were incidents of vandalism or destruction of property. The rest were crimes involving robbery motivated by hate.

The report probably underestimates actual hate crimes in the United States. The classification of a crime, as a hate crime, requires the local police agency to cooperate. If they do not report it as a hate crime it is not included. Given the document racial biases, and anti-gay attitudes of law enforcement officials, they are more likely to exclude legitimate cases from the classification than they are to included incidents that don't belong there.

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