FBI finds increase in reported hate crimes since 2001

by Courtney Lewis

Hate crimes reported in 2001 were up from the previous year, according to recently released FBI figures.

The FBI gathered information from state and local agencies nationally to find 9,730 hate-related incidents involving 11,451 separate offenses in 2001.

FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said offenses are usually higher than incidences because several offenses can happen in one criminal situation.

“For example, if there was a rape and an aggravated assault, that’s two separate offenses but only one incident,” Bresson said.

These numbers increased from the 8,063 incidents and 9,430 offenses reported nationwide in 2000, Bresson said.

Bresson said much of the increase can be attributed to anti-Islamic hate crimes.

In 2000, 28 crimes were reported against Islamic people. In 2001, the number rose to 481.

According to the report, 99 percent of reported hate crimes were motivated by one bias. Most of them were instigated by racial or ethnic bias.

Forty-five percent of single-bias incidents were racially motivated, 21.6 percent were products of bias against ethnicities and 18.8 percent resulted from religious bias. Crimes occurring against sexual orientations accounted for 14.3 percent, and 0.4 percent occurred because of a disability bias.

According to the FBI, most of the crimes involve intimidation or result in bodily harm or death threats. Ten homicides occurred in 2001 that the FBI classified as hate-driven crimes. Five homicides were connected to ethnic or national origin bias, four were racially driven and one was attributed to a sexual orientation prejudice.

Approximately 10 percent of reported hate crimes happened at schools or colleges.

The FBI defines hate crimes as a criminal offense committed against a person, property or society, which is motivated in whole or in part by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or national origin.

Bresson said many factors account for the rise in hate crimes.

“It’s difficult to determine what this means,” Bresson said. “It’s affected by population density and variation, cultural factors, religious characteristics and influences and the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies.”

The FBI has been collecting hate crime statistics for 10 years. General crime reports have been gathered annually since 1930.

Bresson said there are approximately 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationally, and 11,987 contributed to the 2001 hate crime statistics report.

Not all police agencies collect their state and local hate crime numbers. Bresson said it usually takes longer to compile those statistics than for other crimes.

Courtney Lewis welcomes comments at [email protected]