Racist hate crime in the US up eight percent

By Arun Kumar, IANS

Washington : Over 5,000 people, including 230 Asians, were victims of racially motivated hate crimes in the US in 2006 as such incidents accounted for more than half the reported instances.

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While one in 20 (4.8 percent) were victims of an anti-Asian/Pacific Islander bias, two thirds (66.4 percent) suffered due to anti-black and one in five because of anti-white bias, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said Monday.

In all, 7,722 criminal incidents targeting victims or property as a result of bias against a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or physical or mental disability were recorded in 2006. That was up 7.8 percent from the 7,163 incidents reported in 2005.

As has been the case since the FBI began collecting hate crime data in 1991, the most frequent motivation was racial bias, accounting for 51.8 percent of the incidents in 2006. That was down slightly from the 54.7 percent in 2005.

Religious bias was blamed for 18.9 percent of the incidents in 2006, sexual orientation bias for 15.5 percent, and ethnic or national origin for 12.7 percent.

Of the 1,750 victims of an anti-religion hate crime, 65.4 percent were victims of an offender’s anti-Jewish bias and 11.9 percent suffered due to an anti-Islamic bias. Next came 4.9 percent Catholics, 3.7 percent Protestants and 8.4 percent of other religions.

Of the 7,330 offenders identified by police, 58.6 percent were white, 20.6 percent were black, 12.9 percent were of unknown racial background. Other races accounted for the remainder.

The two most frequent hate crimes in 2006 were property damage or vandalism, at 2,911 offences, and intimidation, at 2,046 offences. There were 860 aggravated assaults and 1,447 simple assaults. There were three murders, six rapes and 41 cases of arson. Other offences included robbery, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.

The 7,722 hate crime incidents involved 9,080 specific criminal offences, including 5,449 against individuals, 3,593 against property and 38 classified as against society at large. An incident can involve attacks on both people and property.

The greatest percentage of incidents, 31 percent, occurred near residences or homes. Another 18 percent occurred on highways or streets, 12.2 percent at colleges or schools, 6.1 percent in parking lots or garages, 3.9 percent at churches, synagogues or temples. The remainder occurred at other specific locations, multiple locations or unknown locations.