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FBI Report Indicates Decrease in Hate Crimes

December 11, 2014 - Posted by Patrick McNeil

An annual report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on December 8 reveals that reported hate crime incidents decreased from 6,573 to 5,928, the lowest number of reported hate crimes since the first year of reporting in 1991. However, civil rights groups remain concerned about the ongoing problem of underreporting, which makes it hard to get an actual picture of the scope of the problem year to year.

The report, “Hate Crime Statistics, 2013,” found that crimes directed against individuals based on disability, national origin, race, religion, and sexual orientation all decreased since last year. This year’s report is the first to document crimes committed on the basis of gender and gender identity, as well as crimes committed by and against juveniles. But only 15,016 law enforcement agencies participated – an increase from 14,511 in 2012, but still troubling.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) says it is “cautiously optimistic” about the direction the nation is moving in, but noted there is still work to be done on this front.

“Even with record high participation, underreporting remains a problem,” said Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL national chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director,in a statement on Tuesday. “Thousands of police departments did not report data to the FBI, and of those that did, only about 12 percent reported one or more hate crimes to the Bureau. Over 80 cities with over 100,000 in population either did not participate in the reporting program, or affirmatively reported zero hate crimes to the FBI – which would be welcome news, but seems unlikely.”

Race-based crimes remained the most frequent, as they always have been, and crimes committed against the lesbian, gay, and bisexual communities were the second most frequent hate crime for the second time ever. The report shows that about 20 percent of all crimes reported had an anti-gay bias, which concerns the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

“Hate crimes are different from other crimes because they affect not only the victims and their families, but generate fear and insecurity for the entire community they target,” said David Stacy, HRC’s government affairs director, in a statement on HRC’ blog on Tuesday. “While reporting statistics on hate crimes based on sexual orientation – and now on gender identity – are important first steps, so much more work is needed to prevent bias-motivated violence. For example, too many states still do not have an LGBT-inclusive state-level hate crimes law, and we are committed to working with our partners and allies to change that. All people should have the opportunity to live openly, honestly, and safely in their community without fear of harassment or violence.”

As reported by BuzzFeed News on Monday, the number of hate crimes against transgender people seems low, especially compared to data from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), who released a report in May with very different findings.

“By way of comparison, the NCAVP issued a comprehensive report in May that found 344 transgender people — more than 10 times the FBI’s figure — were the victims of hate-motivated violence in 2013,” according to BuzzFeed. “That was up from 305 the year before. The group found 13 transgender people in the U.S. were killed last year in bias attacks.”

The collection of anti-trans hate violence was mandated by the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Protection Act, which was passed five years ago in October.

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